SAN DIEGO – Greg Lee, a guard at UCLA who won a pair of NCAA basketball titles under legendary coach John Wooden during the 1970s, died Wednesday. He was 70.
Lee died at a hospital in San Diego from an infection related to an immune disorder, his older brother, Jon Lee, told the Los Angeles Times.
A 6-foot-5 guard known for throwing lobs to Bruins center Bill Walton, Lee was surrounded by seven future NBA players. He was a starter as a sophomore and junior before coming off the bench as a senior, according to the newspapers.
UCLA went 30-0 in 1971-72 and 1972-73 en route to a pair of national titles under Wooden.
During Lee’s senior year, UCLA’s 88-game winning streak was snapped in a 71-70 loss to Notre Dame. The Bruins’ run of seven consecutive national titles also ended that year when they lost 80-77 in double overtime to eventual tournament champion North Carolina State in the NCAA semifinals.
Lee was born and raised in the Reseda neighborhood of Los Angeles. His father played basketball at UCLA under Wooden’s predecessor, Wilbur Johns, according to The Associated Press.
In addition to basketball, Lee also competed on the professional beach volleyball circuit during the 1970s, UCLA said in a news release. He competed in his first tournament in Laguna Beach in 1972 and won his first open title the same year. He entered 62 “open” tournaments and reached the finals 39 times, the school said. He earned 39 titles.
Lee won 39 titles, including a record 13 straight from 1975 to 1976 with partner Jim Menges, who also played at UCLA, the Times reported.
“If I played poorly in volleyball, I was out of there,” Lee once told the newspaper. “If you made errors, you were history.”
After leaving UCLA, Lee played professionally in the ABA and NBA. He played for the ABA’s San Diego Conquistadors in 1974-75 before reuniting with Walton on the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers in 1975-76, the following year. He then played in Germany for several seasons, according to the AP.
Lee later became a teacher at Clairemont High School in San Diego, where he taught math, UCLA said in its news release. He also coached varsity basketball and tennis at the school.
Lee had several health issues late in his life, including neuropathy and a heart valve that required replacement, according to the Times.
“He had a very glorious front nine,” Jon Lee told the newspaper of his brother’s life. “But the back nine was fraught with problems.”
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