Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Credit Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Gene Littles, whose career spanned three decades as an assistant and head coach in the NBA, has died at the age of 78.

Littles died Sept. 9, according to a release by High Point University, where Littles remains the Panthers' all-time leading scorer. A cause of death was not given.

Littles scored 2,398 points from 1965-69 at High Point.

"We are saddened by the passing of another legend of our High Point University Athletic family in Gene Littles," current High Point head coach Tubby Smith said in a statement. "Gene was the best player in High Point University Basketball history. He was a true gentleman, a great competitor, and a classy individual. He was a role model for me and many other collegiate and professional athletes. Gene was a proud ambassador for our alma mater and he represented the values of High Point University throughout his career. We will always remember Gene and honor his legacy. Our sincerest condolences and best wishes to his family, friends, and loved ones."

Littles averaged 9.0 points per game in six years in the ABA and went on to become a head coach in the NBA, including 1 1/2 seasons with the Charlotte Hornets. He finished with a record of 44-111 as head coach of the Hornets (1989-91), Cleveland Cavaliers (1985-86), and Denver Nuggets (1994-95).

"The Charlotte Hornets are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Gene Littles," the Hornets said in a statement. "Gene played an important role in the history of the Hornets and basketball in North Carolina. He served as an assistant coach during the team's inaugural 1988-89 season, before being named the second head coach in Hornets history on January 31, 1990. Prior to becoming an NBA coach, Gene had a storied basketball career in the Carolinas, finishing as High Point University's all-time leading scorer, playing five seasons professionally with the Carolina Cougars of the ABA, and leading North Carolina A&T to a pair of MEAC Championships as head coach. Our thoughts are with Gene's family and friends during this time."

Littles was a three-time NAIA All-American at High Point and had his No. 14 retired by the school. He was the first Black student-athlete to live on campus at High Point College, located in High Point, N.C.

Littles also went 40-15 in two seasons (1977-79) as head coach at North Carolina A&T.

Littles was an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz, Cavaliers, Hornets, and Nuggets, beginning in 1979 through 1997.

Show comments
Thank you for reporting a comment

Add comment
Nickname:      
  Symbols left:     Total comments: 0

We have the right to remove comments which are offensive, contains abusive language, or violates other rules of the website