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The Daily Tar Heel

North Carolina men’s basketball legend Lennie Rosenbluth dies at 89

DTH archive. Lennie Rosenbluth, who played basketball at UNC from 1955 to 1957, passed away on June 18, 2022.

Former UNC men's basketball player Lennie Rosenbluth died on Saturday at the age of 89. The cause of death is unknown at this time.

Hailing from The Bronx, N.Y., Rosenbluth was a forward who played three seasons for UNC from 1955 to 1957. In 1957, he led the undefeated Tar Heels to a national championship while averaging 28 points per game. In the NCAA title game against Wilt Chamberlain and the Kansas Jayhawks, Rosenbluth scored 20 points in a 54-53 triple-overtime victory. That same year, Rosenbluth was named a Helms Foundation Player of the Year, consensus first-team All-American and ACC Player of the Year. 

During his time at UNC, Rosenbluth held a career scoring average record of 26.9 points. This mark, achieved without the 3-point line, has yet to be broken by a Tar Heel. His jersey, No. 10, is one of eight retired by the UNC men’s basketball program and hangs in the front row of the rafters in the Dean E. Smith Center.

Rosenbluth was an instrumental early figure in the North Carolina men’s basketball program. He led UNC men’s basketball to its first NCAA title and was a key recruit for former head coach Frank McGuire, helping to establish the New York to North Carolina recruiting pipeline. Rosenbluth, a 2003 inductee into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, was also a renowned athletic figure in the Jewish community.

“Mr. Rosenbluth is a UNC legend,” UNC men’s basketball head coach Hubert Davis said. “Not only by his playing career but by his character and love for this program, university and community. He was genuine, kind and always supportive of my family and me. I will miss seeing him at our games and around our town. Carolina Basketball will always love him.”

After graduating from UNC, Rosenbluth was drafted No. 6 by the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1957 NBA Draft. He played two seasons professionally and later became a high school teacher and basketball coach in North Carolina and Florida.

In 2010, Rosenbluth moved back to the Chapel Hill area, where he was a prominent member of the community and a familiar face at UNC's home games for the later years of his life.

"He had such a dignity about him,” former UNC men’s basketball head coach Roy Williams said. “The guys who came after him, they talked about Lennie with reverence. There was always something special about him."


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CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Rosenbluth moved back to Chapel Hill with his wife Dianne. Rosenbluth moved to Chapel Hill with his first wife Helen, known as Pat, who died in 2010. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.  

Shelby Swanson

Shelby Swanson is the 2023-24 sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as an assistant sports editor and senior writer. Shelby is a junior pursuing a double major in media and journalism and Hispanic literatures and cultures.