Now that he is no longer on the court, Walt (Bells) Bellamy can no longer be accused of going half speed. Since retiring in 1975 after a 14-year NBA career and settling in Atlanta with his wife and son, Bellamy has chaired the affirmative action committee for the Georgia Democratic Party, organized for the AFL-CIO and acted as a delegate to four Democratic national conventions. In '77 Bellamy even got his foot in the door of the Georgia Senate by keeping others' feet out; he was elected doorkeeper there and served for four years.
Bellamy the player often dragged his size 14's. As a 6' 11" rookie center for the Chicago Packers in 1961-62, he was described by Los Angeles Laker coach Fred Schaus as "the happy medium between the two great centers. He can score almost as well as Wilt Chamberlain and play defense almost as well as Bill Russell." But over his career Bellamy was often cast as that unhappy medium between lofty potential and lesser production. "When he gets up, he's tremendous," said Willis Reed, a Knick teammate in the late '60s. "[But] it takes a lot to get him up."
Still, Bells rang up 20.1 points a game and is the NBA's seventh alltime leading rebounder. "When I was playing, the coaches kept me in for 48 minutes," Bellamy says. "When I look at the present players, the guys playing the same position I played, they're playing 20, 25 minutes." He shrugs. A finalist for the Basketball Hall of" Fame three times, he is likely to be nominated once more this November.
These days Bellamy is on the board of the Southwest Family Branch YMCA, where he is heavily involved in fund-raising. He's also president of the Atlanta Police Athletic League and lobbies for the PAL. "I try to tell people to forget about building more jails and use the money toward creating a wholesome program for youth," Bellamy says.
At a lean 278 pounds, Bellamy swims regularly but rarely plays basketball. He has found his own happy medium now, as a hard worker for good causes.