COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former Ohio State star Larry Siegfried, who helped the Buckeyes to their only championship in 1960 and won five NBA titles in seven years with the Boston Celtics, died Thursday night. He was 71.
Siegfried had been at the Cleveland Clinic since suffering a heart attack on Oct. 5, said Lesli Barkdull Neal, owner and funeral director at Barkdull Funeral Home in Shelby.
The Celtics won five titles from 1964 to ’69 with Siegfried playing guard.
A native of Shelby, a small community between Cleveland and Columbus, Siegfried was captain and MVP of the 1960-61 Ohio State team and was a second-team All-American. A No. 3 pick in the draft by the Cincinnati Royals, he played two seasons in the American Basketball Association with the Cleveland Pipers before joining Bill Russell and former Ohio State teammate John Havlicek with the Celtics.
His scoring average was in the double figures for the Celtics each year from 1965-66 to 1969-70. In the 1968-69 season, he averaged a career-best 14.2 points a game along with 3.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
He finished out his career playing for San Diego, Houston and Atlanta, finishing with almost 6,000 NBA points.
He later coached, counseled prisoners at the Mansfield Correctional Institution and did motivational speaking.
Siegfried returned to Ohio State this spring for the 50th anniversary celebration of his alma mater’s title.
At that time, he said he didn’t live in the past. He said his greatest joys reflecting on his college career were the life lessons he learned from head coach Fred Taylor and the friendships he had with teammates.
“As time goes on, the championship does not mean as much to me,” Siegfried said. “The thing that matters to me is what coach Taylor taught us and the relationships, those intangible things. The core values that made me who I am today, that’s what’s important to me.”
Siegfried scored 1,228 points at Ohio State, ranking him 27th on the school’s all-time scoring list. He had led the Buckeyes in scoring, averaging 19.6 points a game, during his sophomore season.
But one of the greatest recruiting classes ever in college basketball — including Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek — joined the team the next year and Siegfried became a standout supporting player.
His .819 free-throw percentage (340 of 415) is the fifth-best at Ohio State. He hit 86 percent at the line (123 of 143) as a senior in 1960-61.
Siegfried is survived by his wife, Tina, three daughters, a son-in-law and a grandson.
Current Ohio State coach Thad Matta issued a statement on Siegfried’s death.
“Our basketball program has lost one of its finest members,” Matta said. “His legacy at Ohio State and as a professional is so impressive. He was a player that could do it all and it was a thrill to have him around our team during the 1960 championship celebration weekend last year. Our hearts go out to his entire family.”