Dominated the glass with defensive savvy.
He and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players in NBA history to be named Rookie of the Year and MVP and in the same season.
After a successful college career with Louisville, Unseld was taken by the Baltimore Bullets with the second overall pick of the 1968 NBA Draft. The Bullets had never had a winning season up to that point, but with Unseld they would peel off 10 winning seasons and make 12 consecutive playoff appearances.
Unseld had an immediate impact in the NBA, boosting the Bullets to a 57-25 record and first place in the Eastern Division while averaging 13.8 points and 18.2 rebounds per game. Unseld was named both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player that season, joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to accomplish that feat.
Unseld was a five-time All-Star who captained the Bullets to four NBA Finals appearances in the 1970s and to a championship in 1977-78. Unseld averaged 9.4 ppg and 12.0 rpg against the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1978 Finals and was named Finals MVP for his efforts in Washington's title run.
During his 13-year NBA career, Unseld piled up many accomplishments. Upon retirement, he ranked seventh on the league’s all-time rebounding list and was one of a handful of players to have tallied at least 10,000 points and 10,000 rebounds for a career. He played 984 games for the Bullets, the most of any player in franchise history. His total of 13,769 boards (14.0 rpg) currently tops the franchise career list, and his 3,822 assists is second only to John Wall in franchise history.
After retiring in 1981 he moved into a front office position with the Bullets, then coached the team for seven seasons in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Overall, he finished 202-345 in seven seasons as the Bullets' coach (1987-94) and made the playoffs once.
Unseld was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988. In 1996, he was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history. He died on June 2, 2020 at the age of 74.