Nov 18, 2011, 7:40 PM EDT
Hazzard, 69, had been ill for some time and suffered complications from heart surgery. He passed surrounded by family and friends at UCLA Medical Center on Friday.
Hazzard was co-captain and star of the 1964 UCLA team that won the first national championship for John Wooden and started an unprecedented run of dominance in college basketball. Hazzard was the MVP of the Final Four that year and is one of just seven basketball players to have his number retired by UCLA.
He then went on to win a gold medal as part of the 1964 USA Olympic team in Tokyo.
After that he went on to have a 10-year NBA career that started with the Lakers. Being a star in Los Angeles has its perks, and Hazzard had a guest role in a “Gilligan’s Island” episode (as an Air Force lieutenant). His best season was 1967-68, where he scored 24 points per game for the expansion Seattle SuperSonics. He made the All-Star Game that season. Hazzard went on to play for Atlanta and Golden State before retiring.
Hazzard was a gifted ball handler and passer, a tremendous playmaker, the quintessential player that made everyone around him better.
He eventually went back to coach at UCLA in 1984 and coached there four seasons, winning the NIT title one year. He worked as a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers up through 1996, when he suffered a stroke (Jerry Buss and the Lakers continued to pay him after the stroke for many years). He was seen less in public after that.
Hazzard was a devout Muslim who changed his name to Mahdi Abdul-Rahman, but continued to use Hazzard for professional reasons.
Hazzard is survived by his widow Jaleesa, a Bruin song girl during the 1964 NCAA title season, and four grown sons – Yakub, Jalal, Khalil and Rasheed. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.
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