BEND, Ore. — Darrall Imhoff, the former University of California and U.S. Olympic champion center who played 12 seasons in the NBA, has died. He was 78.
The Portland Trail Blazers said Saturday that Imhoff died Friday in Bend of a heart attack.
Imhoff led the Pete Newell-coached Golden Bears to the 1959 NCAA title and played alongside Oscar Robertson and Jerry West on the 1960 Olympic team — also coached by Newell.
Nicknamed “The Ax” for his physical play, Imhoff was selected third overall by the New York Knicks in the 1960 NBA draft — behind Robertson and West — and averaged 7.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in 801 games in 12 seasons with the Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Cincinnati Royals and Trail Blazers. He played in the 1967 NBA All-Star Game while with the Lakers.
The 6-foot-10 Imhoff, from San Gabriel, California, led Cal to the NCAA title games in 1959 and 1960. In 1959, he had 22 points and 16 rebounds in a semifinal victory over Robertson’s Cincinnati team, and scored the winning basket with 17 seconds left in a 71-70 victory over West’s West Virginia squad in the final. Imhoff averaged 10.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in 75 games for Cal.
The lefthander was inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988. In 2009, as part of the 50th-year celebration of the NCAA title, his No. 40 jersey was retired.