Lou Hudson, a six-time N.B.A. All-Star who was one of the most reliable scorers in the league in a 13-year career, most of it with the Atlanta Hawks, died on Friday in Atlanta. He was 69.
His death, which came after a stroke, was confirmed by the Hawks.
A 6-foot-5 swingman who could play guard or small forward, Hudson was known as Sweet Lou, not least because his jump shot — quick out of his hands, released high over his head — went down so smoothly.
Drafted fourth over all by the Hawks in 1966, when they were based in St. Louis, Hudson went on to average at least 24 points per game for five consecutive seasons beginning in 1969-70. His N.B.A. career average was 20.2.
He shot 50 percent or better from the field four times, and he finished in the top 10 in field-goal percentage three times. He made the all-rookie team for the 1966-67 season and played in the All-Star game in six consecutive years, beginning in 1969.
For several seasons in the early 1970s, when Hudson’s teammates included Pete Maravich and Walt Bellamy, the Hawks came close to an N.B.A. championship but never won one.
“I enjoyed playing the game,” Hudson said in an interview with The New York Times in 2004. “I was a loyal team person. I went out every night and played to the best of my ability because I enjoyed basketball. The chips fell where they fell, and I don’t have a problem with where they fell. Guys that won championships, I tell them, ‘You won a championship, but you still weren’t as good as I was.’ ”
Louis Clyde Hudson was born on July 11, 1944, in Greensboro, N.C. He was a multisport star at Dudley High School, which was all-black at the time, and one of the top basketball prospects in the state as a senior in 1962.
But even as the civil rights movement swelled in the South, with sit-ins and marches in his hometown, top basketball colleges did not allow black players on their teams. Hudson planned to play for North Carolina A&T, a historically black college, but when the University of Minnesota offered him a scholarship, an A&T coach told him to accept it. “He told me I should take this opportunity to play in the big time, that I was good enough for that,” Hudson told The Charlotte Observer in 2009. “And he was right.”
As a junior at Minnesota, Hudson averaged 24.8 points and 10.7 rebounds and was named an all-American while leading the Golden Gophers to a second-place finish in the Big Ten.
He played much of his senior season with a cast on his shooting hand after breaking a bone in his right wrist, but he still averaged 19 points per game, often shooting left-handed.
He had played hurt before. In a 1964 defeat of Purdue, he scored 36 points, 24 of them after hitting his head on the backboard, an injury that required stitches during the game.
His jersey was later retired in Minnesota and in Atlanta, where the Hawks first played in the 1968-69 season.
Hudson spent his last two seasons playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. In his final season, 1978-79, he shot 51.7 percent.
His survivors include his wife, Mardi, and a daughter, Adrienne, from a previous marriage. His son from that marriage, Louis Jr., died in 1996 from a blood clot.
After his playing career, Hudson moved to Park City, Utah, where he pursued business interests and started a recreational program, the Growth League. “It teaches life skills through basketball,” he told The Times. “They spend an hour in the classroom and an hour in the gym.”
In 2003, an association of retired N.B.A. players named him the humanitarian of the year.
At his death, he was in Atlanta receiving hospice care.
In Park City, Hudson was elected to the City Council in 1993. He is believed to have been the first African-American elected official in Utah. His campaign signs read, “Sweet Lou for You.”
Louis Clyde Hudson (July 11, 1944 – April 11, 2014) was an American National Basketball Association (NBA) player.
Lou Hudson graduated from Dudley High School in Greensboro. As a junior at the University of Minnesota, Hudson averaged 24.8 points and 10.7 rebounds and was named an All-American. After starring at the University of Minnesota, Hudson was selected by the St. Louis Hawks with the 4th pick of the 1966 NBA Draft.
Hudson was named to the 1967 NBA All-Rookie Team after averaging 18.4 points per game in his first season. At 6'5", Hudson could play as either a guard or a forward, and he had a long and successful professional career. Hudson went on to average at least 24 points per game for five consecutive seasons beginning in 1969-70, and scored 17,940 points in 13 seasons (1966–1979). He was a six time All-Star with the Hawks (who moved to Atlanta in 1968), and he earned the nickname "Sweet Lou" for his smooth and effective jump shot.
Hudson's jersey number was retired by both the Atlanta Hawks and the University of Minnesota.
After his NBA career ended in 1979, Hudson sold restaurant equipment in Atlanta and briefly worked as a radio announcer for the Atlanta Hawks. In 1984, Hudson relocated to Park City, Utah, where he became a real estate investor and served on the Park City city council in the early 1990s. In Park City, he created a recreation basketball league where he served as coach for 20 years before suffering a major stroke on a Park City ski slope in February 2005. He made public appearances as an "ambassador" for the "Power to End Stroke" organization.
In 2014, he died after a stroke, aged 69.