Former Hawks All-Star Dan Roundfield drowned yesterday off the coast of Aruba.
According to reports, Roundfield’s wife became distressed while swimming off of Baby Beach and Roundfield tried to assist her. The Aruba Herald reported that witnesses saw the woman return to shore but that Roundfield was taken out to sea. Authorities found Roundfield’s body under some rocks, the Herald reported.
A police spokesman in Aruba told the Associated Press that Roundfield and his wife went beyond a protected reef area and got caught up in rough waters. The couple were vacationing at the Renaissance Resort.
“It’s a real tragedy,” the spokesman, John Larmonie, told the AP. “He drowned saving his wife.”
Roundfield’s sister-in-law, Julia Roundfield, also confirmed his death to the AP.
“He was a real sweet guy,” Julia Roundfield told the AP. “He really was a sweetheart.”
Roundfield’s survivors include his wife, Bernie, sons Corey and Christopher, and their grandchildren.
Roundfield, 59, played six seasons for the Hawks from 1978-79 to 1983-84. He was named to All-Star teams in 1980, ‘81 and ‘82 and was second-team All-NBA in 1979-80. Roundfield also was voted to the All-Defensive team in five of his 12 NBA seasons.
In a 2006 interview with the Hawks’ Web site, Roundfield said he worked in marketing for an environmental engineering company. He said his favorite NBA memories included making the playoffs in his first season with the Hawks and playing alongside Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins.
The 1978-79 Hawks, coached by Hubie Brown, earned the franchise’s first playoff series victory since 1969-70 by defeating Houston. The Hawks lost a seven-game series to the Washington Bullets in the conference semifinals; Roundfield, in the Website interview, said the Hawks “probably should have beat” the Bullets.
“Danny was the most honest and upfront person I knew, and I’m very stunned at hearing the news of his death,” Wilkins, now a Hawks vice president, said in a statement released by the team. “Danny’s one of my closest friends and he was a tremendous influence on my NBA career, on and off the court. He taught me how to be a professional and took me under his wing. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, I will truly miss him.”
Danny Solomon, a Hawks ball boy during Roundfield’s final season with the Hawks, said Roundfield still lived in the Atlanta area. Solomon said Roundfield was “the nicest dude in the world,” a personality that contrasted with his physical playing style.
“Strong as an ox,” Solomon said. “Back then, all the centers were very, very strong. That’s back when it was ‘real’ basketball and if you tried to go to the hole against a guy like Roundfield, you would go straight down to the floor. He was known for being really rough. He was a stud down low.”
The Cavaliers selected Roundfield in the second round of the 1975 draft after the Detroit native starred at Central Michigan University. The Hawks signed Roundfield as a free agent before the 1978-79 season. In the summer of 1984 Atlanta traded Roundfield to the Pistons for Cliff Levingston, Antoine Carr and two draft picks.