SEATTLE - Les Habegger, who was the head coach of the men’s basketball team at Seattle Pacific University for 17 seasons and was an assistant coach for the Seattle SuperSonics, has a died at the age of 92.
A spokesman for the university said Habegger died Thursday morning in Spokane.
In 1956, Habegger started as an assistant at then-Seattle Pacific College and became head coach the following season. Habegger stepped down in 1974 and had a record of 267-170. Habegger's Falcons played in six NCAA tournaments, and his 1965 squad went all the way to the Elite Eight.
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"The way he approached coaching was with a passion that was pretty much unmatched in those days," said Don DeHart, who played for Habegger and the Falcons from 1970-74. "He wanted to prepare his players not just for the next game, but for life."
In 1977, Habegger went across town to join the Seattle SuperSonics as the assistant to newly hired head coach Bob Hopkins. After 22 games with a 5-17 start, Hopkins was fired and Lenny Wilkens took over as head coach.
Wilkens and Habegger helped guide Seattle to the NBA finals in 1978 against the Washington Bullets but lost in Game 7. The following year, the Sonics returned to the NBA finals and defeated the Bullets in five games for their first and only NBA title.
Habegger served as the Sonic’s general manager and spent nine years coaching in Germany, where he won three pro league championships.
Seattle Pacific inducted Habegger into the Falcon Hall of Fame in 2004, and in 2014 he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in his native state of Indiana.
Habegger is survived by his son Scott and his daughter Julie.
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