Former NBA Player LeRoy Ellis Dead at 72

by June 04, 2012

LeRoy Ellis, a member of the legendary and title-winning 1972 Los Angeles Lakers, passed away on Saturday. The NY Times has the obit: “LeRoy Ellis, a star center at St. John’s University who went on to a long N.B.A. career and played for the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers championship team that won a record 33 straight games, died on Saturday in Scappoose, Ore., a suburb of Portland. He was 72. The cause was prostate cancer, said his wife, Vera. Ellis, at 6 feet 10 inches, teamed with the all-American Tony Jackson and Kevin Loughery on Coach Joe Lapchick’s outstanding St. John’s teams of the early 1960s. ‘For a big guy, he was awfully quick — you can never catch him,’ Lou Carnesecca, who succeeded Lapchick as the St. John’s coach, said in a statement. ‘He had a soft touch and was a good rebounder. He was a quiet guy; you never knew he was around. But when he was on the court, you always knew.’ Ellis still holds St. John’s records for highest rebounding average in a season (16.5) and most rebounds in one game, with 30 against New York University in December 1961. He averaged 23.5 points a game as a senior, when he received the 1962 Haggerty Award as the New York metropolitan area’s best collegiate player. A first-round draft pick of the Lakers’, Ellis played for four N.B.A. teams in a professional career spanning 14 seasons. He was a slender 210-pounder, but he continued to be an outstanding rebounder. He was a backup to Wilt Chamberlain on that 1972 Lakers team, which beat the Knicks, four games to one, in the N.B.A. finals.”