CHAPEL HILL, NC – Lenny Rosenbluth, who led North Carolina to its first national basketball title in 1957 by defeating Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas in a championship game, died on Saturday. He was 89 years old.
The school announced Rosenbluth’s death but gave no reason. Rosenbluth and his wife, Diane, moved to the Chapel Hill area a decade ago and have been a regular at the UNC Home Games ever since.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Rosenbluth joined coaches Frank McGuire and Tar Heels in 1955, and was the standard bearer of the All-Atlantic Coast Conference in each of their three seasons. Phil Ford, Michael Jordan, Anton Jamieson, Tyler Hansbro, Jack Cobb, George Glamack and James Worth are among the only eight jerseys retired by the UNC.
He averaged 28.0 points per game in 1957 – still a school record – and lost to Chamberlain for the Hems Foundation College Basketball Player of the Year award.
That ’57 Tar Heels team took a 32-0 lead, completing their score with Chamberlain’s triple overtime victory over the Hawks. Rosenbluth scored 20 points in the championship game but was eliminated late as a rule.
An inspiration to the Jewish community, it has been inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Israel.
Rosenbluth graduated in 1957, played for a while in the NBM, then became a high school teacher and basketball coach.