BALTIMORE, Md. — Wes Unseld Jr. is a basketball lifer with Baltimore in his blood. He grew up in Catonsville, played high school ball at Loyola Blakefield and was a captain down the road at Johns Hopkins University.
Now he comes home to realize his dream: taking over as head coach of the Washington Wizards.
"[I feel] extreme joy, happiness. There is an excitement about this situation, not only because you’re coming home but you’re one of 30 in the world," he said to WMAR-2 Sports Reporter Shawn Stepner.
Unseld was introduced Monday as the 25th head coach in Wizards franchise history. It’s the 49-year-old’s first head-coaching gig. He comes to the Wiz after six seasons as an assistant in Denver. He also spent time with Orlando and Golden State. He started his NBA career working 14 years as a scout and assistant coach with the Wizards.
He has been close to being hired as a head coach in previous years. Does he feel like this is a classic case of 'everything happens for a reason'?
"I do feel that there is some of that," he said. "It’s unique because this is the place that I call home."
It's the place where his late Hall of Fame father, Wes Unseld, played for the Baltimore and Washington Bullets. Unseld then went on to be a coach and executive for the team. He's arguably the most important person in the history of the franchise both on and off the court.
"He would be extremely proud. I know he’s not here physically. I know he’s somewhere smiling."
As Wes Jr. makes his return to DC, he says Baltimore - from Loyola to Hopkins and beyond - built his foundation.
"It’s part of my DNA. I grew up in Catonsville but I’ve always associated with Baltimore. My roots are there, from early childhood through high school and college. So, that’s always home."
He said now that he’s back in the area he sees himself coming up to Baltimore 'quite often’.