- Born May 31, 1942
- Died May 1, 2001
- Attended New York University
- Coached by Joe Mullaney, Bill Sharman
Harold "Happy" Hairston was the starting forward on what is considered by many to be one of the best teams in NBA history -- the 1971-72 Lakers, which won a record 33 straight games on its way to the franchise's first league title since moving to Los Angeles.
That season Hairston helped Wilt Chamberlain dominate the boards for the Lakers -- Chamberlain led the NBA with 1,572 rebounds and Hairston was 11th with 1,045.
Hairston went on to lead the Lakers in rebounds in 1973-74 (second in the league) and 1974-75, pulling in an NBA record 13 defensive rebounds in one quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 15, 1974. He is the Lakers' 11th all-time leading rebounder (4,885 in five-plus seasons) and 57th all-time in league history (8,019 in his 11-year career).
His contributions came on the offensive end as well. Hairston averaged 20.6 points in 55 games after being traded to the Lakers from the Detroit Pistons in November 1969 and 18.6 points in 80 games the following season, finishing his Lakers career with a 15.2 scoring average. He also led the team in field goal percentage in 1973-74 and 1974-75, averaging above .500 both years.
At the height of his Lakers success, Hairston also found time to dabble in acting, an interest he continued to pursue after his basketball career with guest appearances on numerous TV shows, including "Sanford and Son," "Fame," "Knots Landing" and, appropriately, "Happy Days."
He also managed golf ranges and courses in the Los Angeles area and established the Happy Hairston Youth Foundation, which paid for the educations of underprivileged children. He was 58 when he died of complications from prostate cancer in 2001.
Feb. 12, 2011