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Leonard Roy Chappell

Also Known As: "Len"
Birthplace: Portage, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: July 12, 2018 (77)
Oconomowoc, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Chappell
Husband of Private
Father of Private and Private
Brother of Private and Private

Occupation: Basketball player
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • Private
    • Private
    • Private
    • father
    • Private
    • Private

About Len Chappell

Len Chappell, an All-American at Wake Forest who became an N.B.A. All-Star forward with the Knicks in the early 1960s, died on Thursday at a hospice in Oconomowoc, Wis., a suburb of Milwaukee. He was 77.

His wife, Joanne, said he underwent surgery for a brain hemorrhage incurred in a fall at the family home, in Waterford, Wis., in April, then had a stroke and pneumonia.

Chappell, 6 feet 8 inches and 240 pounds, was a prolific scorer and rebounder at Wake Forest while leading the Demon Deacons to two N.C.A.A. championship tournament appearances, including a berth in the Final Four in 1962. He was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s player of the year in 1961 and 1962.

Chappell was selected by the Syracuse Nationals in the first round of the 1962 N.B.A. draft, the fourth player chosen over all.

After one season with the Nats and one game with their successor franchise, the Philadelphia 76ers, he was purchased by the Knicks. He had the best season of his N.B.A. career with them in 1963-64, playing in his only All-Star Game and averaging more than 17 points and 9 rebounds a game.

“He had excellent hands, a soft shooting touch and he was a natural scorer,” Dave Budd, his teammate at Wake Forest and with the Knicks, recalled in an interview Saturday.

Chappell was the Knicks’ leading scorer in his All-Star season with 1,349 points in a frontcourt including Johnny Green, Art Heyman, Billy McGill and Budd. But the Knicks went 22-58.

Chappell played in the N.B.A. for nine seasons. He retired after appearing with the Dallas Chaparrals of the American Basketball Association in 1971-72.

Leonard Roy Chappell was born on Jan. 31, 1941, in Portage, Pa. His father, John, was a coal miner.

He was an all-state basketball player at Portage High School, then played for three seasons at Wake Forest.

Chappell teamed with Billy Packer, the point guard and later a longtime college basketball TV analyst, on the Demon Deacon team that went to the 1962 N.C.A.A. tournament semifinals. Wake Forest lost to an Ohio State squad led by John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas, then defeated U.C.L.A. for the third-place spot.

“Packer did all the talking and I did all the work,” Chappell wryly remarked in an interview with The Charlotte Observer before Wake Forest played in the first round of the 1996 N.C.A.A. tournament in Milwaukee.

Chappell was Wake Forest’s first consensus All-American, in 1962. He scored 2,165 points, an average of 24.9 points a game, and pulled down 1,213 rebounds, an average of 13.9 per game, with the Demon Deacons.

After playing with the Knicks, Chappell played for the Chicago Bulls, Cincinnati Royals, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks. He averaged more than 9 points a game for his N.B.A. career.

In addition to his wife, with whom he founded Chappell Sports, a Wisconsin product promotion company, he is survived by his sons Jason and John, who played at center for Wisconsin and South Carolina respectively; his daughter, Kirsten Chappell; a brother, Bill; his sisters Rose Kimbach and Ruth MorrowKimbach, and a grandson, Leonardo.

In November 2005, Chappell attended a Wisconsin game at Wake Forest to watch Jason play. “It will be hard to cheer for either one, but I think I’ll go with Big Red,” he told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel before the tipoff, referring to Wisconsin.

Budd, his longtime friend, who was at that game, recalled how Chappell, sitting near courtside, “wore Wisconsin gear to support his kid.”

Budd said that “the Wake Forest people were going to introduce him before the game” but they feared that “with that gear, the students would boo him.”

The solution: When Chappell was introduced, the spotlight was not on him but on his old Wake Forest jersey with his No. 50, which had been retired and was hanging high above the court at Lawrence Joel Coliseum.

That took the students’ focus off Chappell’s Wisconsin outfit. “They didn’t boo him,” Budd said.

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Len Chappell's Timeline

January 31, 1941
Portage, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, United States
July 12, 2018
Age 77
Oconomowoc, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, United States