ATLANTA — Lou Hudson, a smooth-shooting star for the Hawks who averaged more than 20 points during 13 NBA seasons, died Friday. He was 69.
He died in Atlanta, where he was hospitalized and listed in grave condition last month after a stroke, the Hawks said.
Hudson, a six-time All-Star nicknamed “Sweet Lou,” played for the Hawks in St. Louis and Atlanta. The guard-forward averaged 20.2 points for his career. He spent 11 seasons with the Hawks and finished with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979.
His No. 23 was retired by the Hawks, joining Bob Pettit and Dominique Wilkins as the only other Hawks players so honored. His No. 14 was retired by the University of Minnesota, where he was one of the school’s first black players.
“Lou Hudson holds a special place in the Hawks family, in the hearts of our fans and in the history of our club,” Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon said. “As a fan growing up with this team, I’m fortunate to say I was able to see almost every game Sweet Lou played as a member of the Hawks.
“He was an integral part of successful Hawks teams for over a decade, and is deservedly recognized with the ultimate symbol of his significance to the franchise with the number 23 hanging inside Philips Arena.”
Beginning with the 1969-70 season, Hudson averaged at least 24 points in five straight seasons. In his years with the Hawks, he averaged at least 20 points seven times. He set a career high with his average of 27.1 points per game in the 1972-73 season.
He scored 57 points against Chicago on Nov. 10, 1969, matching the franchise record also set by Pettit and Wilkins.
Hudson was a first-round pick by St. Louis in 1966 and made the NBA all-rookie team. He missed part of his second season while serving in the Army.
Following the team’s move from St. Louis, he scored the first points for the new Atlanta team in 1968. He helped lead the Hawks to the 1970 Western Division championship.
Hudson, a native of Greensboro, N.C., is also a member of the North Carolina, Georgia and Atlanta sports hall of fame. He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1966 even though he didn’t play college football.
Hudson suffered his first stroke in 2005 and later campaigned for the “Power to End Stroke” organization.