Bob Boozer, a star basketball player in college who became an Olympic gold medalist and finished his playing career with an NBA championship, died of a brain aneurysm May 19 at a hospital in Omaha, Neb. He was 75.
The death was confirmed by his wife of 46 years, Ella Boozer.
Mr. Boozer was the No. 1 pick in the 1959 NBA draft after he earned all-America honors his junior and senior seasons at Kansas State. The 6-foot-8 forward retired after winning the 1971 NBA title with the Milwaukee Bucks.
One of his great joys was playing with Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas on the gold medal-winning 1960 Olympic team. He went on to average 14.8 points and 8.1 rebounds with six professional teams.
Mr. Boozer and his teammates on the 1960 Olympic team were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. The star-studded squad won eight games by an average of 42.4 points, and 10 of the players reached the NBA. Mr. Boozer was a reserve who played mostly a defensive role.
“We had so many shooters on the Olympic team that he didn’t get to shoot it like he did in college,” Robertson said. “Bob never ever complained.”
Robert Louis Boozer was born April 26, 1937, in Omaha. He became one of the greatest players ever at Kansas State.
He averaged 21.9 points for his career, and his 25.2 points a game as a senior is second in school history to Michael Beasley’s 26.2 points in 2007-08. Mr. Boozer led the Wildcats to the NCAA Final Four as a junior, and as a senior he helped Kansas State to a No. 1 ranking in the final regular-season poll.
Mr. Boozer delayed entering the NBA for a year so he could retain his amateur status for the Olympics. He averaged 6.8 points for the American team that beat Brazil 90-63 for the gold medal in Rome.
Ella Boozer said her husband took delight in good-natured arguments about whether the 1960 Olympic team was better than the 1992 “Dream Team,” which included Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Charles Barkley.
The Chicago Bulls selected Mr. Boozer in the 1966 expansion draft, and he averaged 20.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in three seasons with the team. He made his only All-Star appearance in 1968 while with the Bulls. He played with Robertson and Lew Alcindor while winning the ’71 title with the Bucks.
Bulls teammate Bob Love said he remembered Mr. Boozer for the running hook shots he took as he crossed the lane.
“You couldn’t block his shot,” Love said. “He had those long arms and wide body. He couldn’t jump real high, but he had a quick shot. He’d get his shot off and get back under the hoop and put the ball back in the hole.”
Mr. Boozer returned to Omaha after his playing days and worked as an executive for the telephone company. He was appointed to the Nebraska Parole Board in the 1990s and volunteered at Boys Town, the home for troubled youth.