PASSINGS: LeRoy Ellis, Jack Twyman


Ex-Laker backed up Wilt Chamberlin on 1971-72 title team

LeRoy Ellis, 72, a first-round draft pick of the Lakers in 1962 who was the backup center to Wilt Chamberlin on the 1971-72 NBA championship team, died Saturday in Portland, Ore., after battling cancer.

Ellis, a 6-foot-10 forward/center, played 14 seasons in the NBA and averaged 9.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. A New York City native, he played college basketball at St. John’s University.

The Lakers chose him with the sixth pick of the 1962 draft and he played four seasons in Los Angeles before being traded to Baltimore. He spent four seasons with the Bullets, and became the first starting center for the expansion Portland Trail Blazers in 1970. The next year the Trail Blazers traded him to the Lakers. He was traded to Philadelphia in 1972 and played there four years.


He played in the NBA finals four times, all with the Lakers.

After his basketball career ended in 1976, he lived in Los Angeles and worked for a tire company, then moved to Portland and worked in property management until his illness forced him to stop working in 2009.

He had five children, including son LeRon Ellis, a first-round draft pick of the Clippers in 1991.


Hall of Famer was one of NBA’s top scorers in 1950s

Basketball Hall of Famer Jack Twyman, 78, one of the NBA’s top scorers in the 1950s who became the guardian to a paralyzed teammate, died Wednesday at a Cincinnati hospice of complications from an aggressive form of blood cancer, his family said.

Twyman played for the University of Cincinnati and spent 11 seasons in the NBA with the Rochester and Cincinnati Royals. He averaged a career-high 31.2 points per game in the 1959-60 season, playing in six All-Star games.

In 1958, after teammate Maurice Stokes was left paralyzed after a head injury suffered during a game, Twyman became his guardian to help Stokes receive medical benefits.

Twyman later worked as a television analyst on NBA games. His most famous work as an announcer came in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals between the Lakers and the New York Knicks, when he stopped himself mid-sentence during the pregame warmups to announce that he saw injured New York center Willis Reed coming through the player tunnel. It had not been known whether Reed would be able to play because of an injured thigh muscle, but he went on to lead New York to a 113-99 victory.

Twyman scored 15,840 points in his career and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.

Twyman also left his mark on the NBA for the way he helped Stokes, a budding star in 1958. During the last game of that season, Stokes hit his head on the floor during a game. He later had a seizure, slipped into a coma and was left paralyzed.

In addition to becoming Stokes’ guardian, Twyman organized an exhibition game with NBA players to raise money for Stokes, who died in 1970. That game became an annual tradition to raise money for needy former players.

Times staff and wire reports