USC alumnus Bill Sharman dies at 87

Bill Sharman, a USC alumnus and former coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, passed away Friday in his home in Redondo Beach, Calif. He was 87 years old.

Sharman was well known for his basketball success and was nicknamed “Bullseye Bill” for his efficacy at the free-throw line. He is also ranked in the top 25 in all-time high scorers at USC.

Sharman was a Troy letter-winner for four years, from 1947 to 1950. Sharman was selected as an All-American in 1950. In 1950, he was USC’s forward and scored 1108 points in 81 games for an average of 13.7 points per game, which was a record for USC at the time. As a senior, he averaged 18.6 points per game.

In 1949, he was chosen as USC’s Most Inspirational Player and in 1950, he was chosen as USC’s Most Valuable Player. Sharman played for the USC baseball team from 1949-1950 before signing a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

After briefly working for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Sharman became an NBA star with the Celtics, and later a coach for the Lakers and in 1972 led the Lakers to their first National Basketball Association title. He was also distinguished as Coach of the Year.

Sharman is also known for inventing the “shootaround” as a way for players to calm their nerves on game days. He found that he felt less nervous if he shot a few baskets and dribbled the ball around before the game, and he brought this strategy with him to the teams that he coached.

Sharman also became the first coach to win championships in three different professional leagues, with the American Basketball League in Cleveland, American Basketball Association in Utah and the NBA in Los Angeles.

He later joined John Wooden and Lenny Wilkens as the only members in the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.

In 2002, Sharman was put into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor and was part of USC’s inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994. His No. 11 USC jersey was retired in 2007 and is displayed in the Galen Center.

Sharman is survived by his wife Joyce, his two sons Jerry and Tom and his two daughters Nancy and Janice.