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Greg Lee, a Key Member of Two U.C.L.A. Title-Winners, Dies at 70


Greg Lee, the purpose guard for Coach John Picket’s unbeaten U.C.L.A. teams that captured the 1972 and 1973 N.C.A.A. basketball tournament championships, died on Wednesday in San Diego. He was 70.

His death, at a hospital, was announced by the U.C.L.A. athletics department, which said the cause was an infection related to an immune disorder.

At 6 feet 4 inches, a great size for a guard of his era, Lee became a starter in his sophomore season.

He joined center Bill Walton and forward Jamaal Wilkes, U.C.L.A.’s stars, on the Bruins team that defeated Florida State for the 1972 tournament championship.

With U.C.L.A. having a sharpshooting frontcourt, Lee targeting a playmaking role within the 1973 title game, handing out 14 assists in 34 minutes on the court while Walton connected on 21 of twenty-two shots, scoring 44 points, within the Bruins’ victory over Memphis State. It was U.C.L.A.’s seventh consecutive national championship. Each those teams had gone 30-0 before their face-off.

By U.C.L.A’s standards, the 1973-74 season, when Lee was a senior, proved something of a disappointment. The Bruins’ winning streak ended at 88 games after they were edged by Notre Dame, 71-70. They were defeated in double time beyond regulation within the N.C.A.A. tournament semifinals by North Carolina State, which went on to capture the title, and so they finished with a record of 26-4 — impressive for nearly any team, but not U.C.L.A.

Lee averaged only 5.8 points a game for his three varsity seasons, but he averaged nearly three assists a game as a senior. His U.C.LA. teams had an overall record of 86-4.

He was named a three-time academic All-American.

Lee was chosen by the Atlanta Hawks within the seventh round of the 1974 N.B.A. draft and by the San Diego Conquistadors of the American Basketball Association in its draft. He played briefly within the A.B.A. and, after becoming a free agent, reunited with Walton on the N.B.A.’s Portland Trail Blazers, who obtained him in a trade with the Hawks. He got into only just a few games with the Blazers.

Lee later played pro basketball in Germany for several seasons. But when his basketball profession was over when he returned to the USA, his athletic profession was not.

He hadn’t played volleyball at U.C.L.A., but he joined the skilled beach volleyball circuit in Southern California and went on to enjoy success in each singles and, teamed with Jim Menges, a former volleyball player for the Bruins, doubles. Of their 30 matches between 1973 and 1982, Lee and Menges won 25 doubles titles and finished in second place 3 times and in third place once.

Gregory Scott Lee was born on Dec. 12, 1951, within the Reseda neighborhood of Los Angeles, the youngest of three brothers. He starred in basketball at Reseda High School, where he was coached by his father, Marvin, who had played for U.C.L.A. within the Forties under Wilbur Johns, the Bruins’ coach before Picket. He was named the Los Angeles city player of the yr during his junior and senior seasons at Reseda, when he averaged near 30 points a game.

He later earned teaching credentials from U.C.L.A. and taught mathematics and coached basketball and tennis at Clairemont High School in San Diego, whose 1979 class inspired Cameron Crowe’s 1981 book “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and its 1982 movie adaptation.

He’s survived by his wife, Lisa; his son, Ethan; his daughter, Jessamyn Feves; his brother, Jon; and two grandchildren.

Lee was grateful to Picket for his guidance.

“He did the identical things along with his stars as he did along with his scrubs,” he was quoted as saying in “How one can Be Like Coach Picket: Life Lessons From Basketball’s Biggest Leader,” by Pat Williams (2006, with David Wimbish). “He all the time focused on the small print. He was a teacher who happened to be a basketball coach.”

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