Willie Sims, the American-Israeli, who was the sixth man on the 1981 LSU basketball team’s run to the Final Four, died on Friday in Israel.
Sims was known as “Super Sub” as he was usually the first player off the bench for the team that won a school-record 26 consecutive games and finished the season with a 31-5 record.
The 64-year-old Sims had been hospitalized in Israel, where he lived for years after a decorated 16-year pro career there, since suffering a heart attack in August.
Sims grew up in New York and was predominantly raised by his grandmother, who converted to Judaism after marrying Sims’s grandfather.
An affable 6-foot-3 guard, Sims perfectly played the role he accepted during his four-year career with the Tigers from 1977-81.
When did Sims move to Israel?
After being chosen in the fifth round of the 1981 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets, Sims opted to play pro ball in Israel and became a beloved player there.
A two-time gold medalist in the Maccabiah Games while playing for the USA in 1977 and ’81, Sims played in 309 pro games and scored 3,761 points to rank 47th on the Israeli scoring list.
Sims played in Israel for Maccabi Haifa (1981-83), Hapoel Tel Aviv (1983-85), Elitzur Netanya (1985-87) and Maccabi Tel Aviv (1987-92), where he won the Israeli Basketball Super League five times and won three Israeli State Cups. He then played for Hapoel Eilat from 1992 to 1996.
Sims is survived by his wife, Ariella, and three children. His daughter, Danyelle, is married to former Israeli player Gal Mekel.