Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
BELLEVUE, Wash. — Zelmo Beaty, who led the Utah Stars to the state’s only professional basketball championship in 1971, has passed away at the age of 73.
Beaty, known as “The Big Z,” was named Most Valuable Player of the American Basketball Association finals that year. The Stars defeated the Kentucky Colonels in seven games to win the title, clinching the championship with a 131-121 victory in the Salt Palace on May 18, 1971.
Beaty had 36 points and 16 rebounds in the final game and was carried off the floor by celebrating fans along with teammate Willie Wise.
In 2001, on the 30th anniversary of the accomplishment, Beaty reflected on how special it was.
"That championship means everything to me. We had such great fans and support,” Beaty told the Deseret News. “When they carried Willie Wise and me off the court after we won the championship game with Kentucky, it was breathtaking for me. I had never had anything like that happened to me before, and I never did again."
Beaty, a 6-foot-9 center from Prairie View A&M, played for the Stars from 1970-74, averaging 19.1 points and 11.6 rebounds.
Prior to signing with the ABA, Beaty was a first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Hawks and played for the organization from 1962-69. He was forced to sit out a season when switching leagues. After his stint in Utah, Beaty played one season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
With more than 889 professional games, Beaty averaged 17.1 points and 10.9 rebounds.
- BYU falls to Memphis 55-48 in double overtime...
- Dick Harmon: Presence of injured stars looms...
- Gordon Hayward happy to be moving on with...
- BYU-Memphis an 'intriguing' bowl matchup
- Miami Beach Bowl ends in brawl between BYU...
- Brad Rock: This is where conference switch...
- Tyler Haws scores 24 as BYU holds off Stanford
- Utes capped comeback season with lopsided Las...
- BYU falls to Memphis 55-48 in double... 97
- Big winner: Utes hit jackpot early and... 55
- Hamson and Gray step up big to get BYU... 45
- Brad Rock: This is where conference... 36
- Dick Harmon: How a simple decision in... 35
- Ute football team has boots on the... 33
- Ranking the biggest bowl games in... 28
- Dick Harmon: Presence of injured stars... 26