Walt Hazzard was a basketball star in the Los Angeles area even before he was picked by the Lakers fifth overall in the 1964 NBA draft. The 6-foot-2 guard helped UCLA reach its first NCAA Final Four as a sophomore, was first-team All-America his junior year and earned Final Four MVP honors in leading the Bruins to their first NCAA championship his senior season in 1964. Later that year he won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic team.
Hazzard's three seasons with the Lakers weren't nearly as impressive, although he ranked eighth in the NBA and second on the team in assists (393) and assists per game (4.9) during the 1965-66 season. He was taken by the Seattle Supersonics in the 1967 expansion draft and was an All-Star for the only time in his 10-year career that season.
Although Hazzard embraced the Muslim faith and changed his name to Mahdi Abdul-Rahman during the later years of his playing career, he was going by Walt Hazzard again in 1984, when he became a charter member of the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. Also that year, he became the Bruins' head coach, a position he held for four years. During that span, he led the Bruins to an NIT championship and the Pacific-10 regular-season and tournament titles and was named the conference’' coach of the year.
Hazzard joined the Lakers' front office in 1994 and was the team's primary West Coast advance NBA scout before suffering a stroke in 1996. He continues to serve as a special consultant to the team, focusing primarily on community relations.
He and his wife, Jaleesa, have four adult children. One of their sons, Rasheed Hazzard, works in the Lakers organization, and another son, Khalil Abdul-Rahman, is a well-known music producer.
Feb. 12, 2011