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Cleveland Cavaliers legend Bingo Smith dies at age 77

Teammate and friend Campy Russell said that Smith “was one of the most gifted players to ever grace the Wine and Gold.”

Cleveland Cavaliers v Washington Bullets Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Bobby “Bingo” Smith, whose No. 7 jersey is retired by the Cavs after a 10-year run with the Cavs, has died. He was 77.

“This is an incredibly sad day for our Cavaliers family and we are deeply hurt relating to Bingo’s passing,” said Director of Alumni Relations and former Cavaliers teammate and friend, Campy Russell. “Bingo was one of the most gifted players to ever grace the Wine and Gold, and his impact on the court and throughout the community made a lasting impression on everyone that ever came into contact with him. He spent the majority of his life doing what he loved and his loyalty to the Cavaliers never wavered. As a Cavaliers ambassador, Bingo consistently devoted his time embracing fans and sharing a piece of his basketball journey long after his playing days were over. The thoughts and prayers of this organization and Cavaliers fans across Northeast Ohio are with the entire Smith family.”

Smith was drafted by the Cavaliers in the 1970 expansion draft after he played his rookie year with the San Diego Rockets. He went on to spend a decade in Cleveland and over 700 games with the franchise. He finished his 12-year NBA career with the San Diego Clippers.

He was part of the Cavaliers’ “Miracle of Richfield team against the Washington Bullets in the 1975-1976 season. Smith is fourth in franchise history in games played, third in field goals made, third in field goals attempted, fifth in minutes played and sixth in points scored.

Smith’s enduring legacy shines through his presence in the franchise’s record books, where he maintains a place in the Top 10 all-time in six different categories: games played (4th), field goals made (3rd), field goals attempted (3rd), minutes played (5th) and points scored (6th). The Cavaliers retired his jersey on Dec. 4, 1979.

“Bingo and I were teammates for almost a decade, and we experienced the full spectrum of emotions and successes here in Cleveland, while representing our beloved Cavaliers,” said Austin Carr. “From the early expansion years of the team, to our first-ever playoff experience and the Miracle season, Bingo was always a giving teammate and one of the most fierce competitors I ever played with. This is truly a sad moment in our franchise history and my heart goes out to his family.”

“We lost a great man,” said Cavaliers radio analyst and former teammate Jim Chones. “Praying for the Smith family and all their loved ones today, as we truly lost a brother, a teammate, a father and all-around great human being. His impact on the Cavaliers and so many of us that played with him will never be forgotten. My hearts goes out to all those he touched throughout his life. Rest in power Bingo.”