NBA journeyman Armen Gilliam died on Wednesday at the age of 47. He had a heart attack while playing a pick-up game of basketball at his local LA Fitness in Collier Township, probably the least “LA” place in the United States. They rushed him to a hospital, where they declared him dead.
Stat recaps are never a fun thing to do when someone dies too young, but they’re a heart-in-the-right-place way of lining up a man’s public accomplishments and saying “hey, this is what he did, and you can remember him for it”. He was a former No. 2 overall pick of the Phoenix Suns in 1987 and played for nearly everyone at one point or another, the Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz. His first name used to be “Armon”, but he changed it. He retired in 2000 after 13 seasons of being “The Hammer”, a nickname given to him for his powerful, physical style of play and because it was a great pun.
He was never a superstar, so we’re allowed to let the people who knew him best make their own eulogies.
“I’m all shook up,” former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian told the Las Vegas Sun today. “He was such a great person. He would take the shirt of his back for you.”
I think that’s the kind of legacy I’d like to leave.