Blog Entry

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies

Posted on: July 6, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 7:30 pm
Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver.

Armen Gilliam, a former No. 2 overall pick of the Phoenix Suns in 1987, died Wednesday. He was 47.

Police say Gilliam collapsed of a heart attack while playing basketball at LA Fitness in Collier Township, Penn. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead.

Gilliam, nicknamed "The Hammer," starred at UNLV on the 1987 team that won a record 38 games and made it to the Final Four.

Over at's Eye on College Basketball, Matt Norlander notes that he leaves a big legacy in Las Vegas.
At Vegas, Gilliam was the seventh-highest scorer in school history. He put up 1,855 points in his three-year career, and scored a still-standing record of 903 points in the Final Four season of 1986-87. The team was 93-11 while he was there. He averaged 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds as a Runnin' Rebel.

"I'm all shook up," former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian told the Las Vegas Sun today. "He was such a great person. He would take the shirt of his back for you."

Besides the Suns, he also played for the Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz. He retired in 2000.

On Wednesday afternoon, Phoenix Suns president Lon Babby issued the following statement.
“On behalf of the entire Phoenix Suns family, I’d like to express our sadness at the news of the passing of Armen Gilliam and offer our condolences to his family.  Armen will always have a place in Suns history as only the second No. 2 overall pick for the franchise, but the rugged, tough enforcer known as ‘The Hammer’ on the court will be remembered by his former teammates and our fans for his easygoing nature off the court.”
Gilliam briefly ended his retirement, playing for the Pittsburgh Xplosion (Gilliam is from Pittsburgh), an expansion team in the American Basketball Association, in the 2005-2006 season. He was also the team's coach.
In his 13 NBA seasons, Gilliam, a 6-9 forward, averaged 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He was always one of the most powerful, physical players in the league, hence the nickname "The Hammer." He was a strong dunker, and while he never really lived up to his draft position, he had a solid 13-year NBA career.

And finally, a did you know: Gilliam's first name was spelled Armon in college and first few years in the NBA, but he later changed it to Armen.


Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: July 7, 2011 8:41 am

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies

Growing up in Vegas and I was in HS when he was with the Rebals. He was one of the most popular players there and as college players go he was mature and gave time to the public. He was a dunk machine and his Play during that final 4 run was amazing.

He is also featured in the walk like a tarkanian song. A video later ensued with some of his highlights. Obviously a spin from the Bengals hit.

Running Rebs Fans will definately remember him.

I was really shocked he wasn't more of a star in the NBA but he was difinately solid.

Does anyone know if he ever played on an Olympic Team?


Since: Dec 31, 2006
Posted on: July 7, 2011 8:00 am

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies

Armen Gilliam added bulk, power, points and leadership to the Hornets when he was in Charlotte.  Always a fun player to watch, and although he was never a superstar, you could always count on him to give his best every night.  Rest in peace, big man, and thank you.

Since: Oct 3, 2007
Posted on: July 7, 2011 2:42 am

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies


Since: Sep 30, 2008
Posted on: July 7, 2011 1:13 am

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies

Pray for peace of mind for the Gilliam family...sorry for your loss and God bless.

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: July 6, 2011 11:01 pm

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies

Armen, may you find the peace of our good Lord to abide in, and to comfort you. We are saddened by your passing at such a young age.

Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: July 6, 2011 10:23 pm

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies

one of my favorite sixers rip armen to young to die my friend

Since: Dec 15, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2011 10:12 pm

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies

Didn't see the player play that many games but when he was with the NJ Nets he was one of their better players at that time. So young yet so little time R.I.P big fella!!!

Since: Jul 6, 2011
Posted on: July 6, 2011 8:41 pm

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies

Dude you are a gonad. Excellent English, "who here else". YOU shut YOUR trap! There was nothing negative in the story. You spent 80% of your message spewing garbage unecessarily. Crawl back into your hole until you have something constructive to offer, loser. Why did you have to say he was soft? Nobody else did. Loser. Why did you bash him by adding another negative adjective for no reason? Chump.

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: July 6, 2011 7:13 pm

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies

RIP... A class act and he will be missed by anyone who was dazzled by the Late 80's runnin' Rebels!

Since: Jul 2, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2011 6:34 pm

Former No. 2 overall pick Armen Gilliam dies

He got the nickname "The Hammer" at UNLV not in the Pros. That 87 team was something special. And say what you want about him in the pros who here else has played 13 years in the NBA ? Shut your trap. Why would you bring up anything negative about someone who passed away that never hurt you. Who cares if he was soft or the best or not, it really doesnt matter!

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