BATON ROUGE – Willie Sims, a member of LSU’s 1981 NCAA Final Four team, affectionately known as “Super Sub” by LSU fans, died Dec. 23 at age 64.
Sims was hospitalized in Israel, where he lived for years, after suffering a heart attack in August.
Sims was part of a highly successful run of LSU teams that won regular season conference championships in 1979 and 1981, the SEC Tournament Championship in 1980 and an NCAA Final Four run in 1981.
Sims came off the bench for most of his career, bringing energy and excitement to the contest. During the 1981 season, he was introduced to the starting lineup by then-PA announcer Sid Crocker as “the best sixth man in college basketball.”
Sims was born in Lanett, Alabama and raised in New York City. She was Jewish and raised primarily by her grandmother, who converted to Judaism after her marriage to Sims’ grandfather.
He played high school basketball at Long Island City High School and college basketball at LSU from 1977 to 1981.
In four years, Sims played in 120 games with a career average of 7.6 points per game. He averaged 9.2 points in 1980 and 8.5 points in the 1981 NCAA Final Four season. Sims shot 50 percent from the field in both the 1980 and 1981 seasons.
Sims participated in the 10th 1977 Maccabiah Games as part of the United States National Basketball Team. He scored the winning shot against Israel in the final and helped the United States to the title. He again played in the 11th Maccabiah Games representing the United States.
Sims was drafted by the NBA’s Denver Nuggets in 1981 in the fifth round of that year’s NBA Draft, but chose to play professionally in Israel, where he became a beloved figure in the country’s basketball game.
Sims played for Maccabi Haifa BC in Israel from 1981 to 1983. From 1983 to 1985 he played for HaPol Tel Aviv BC, where he won the Israeli Basketball State Cup. From 1985 to 1987 he played for Elitzer Netanya and from 1987 to 1992 he played for Maccabi Tel Aviv BC where he won the Israeli Basketball Super League five times and won three Israeli State Cups. He then played for Hapol Eilat Basketball Club from 1992 to 1996.
Over the course of 15 seasons, he played 309 league games in Israel and scored 3,761 points. He is ranked in the top 50 of the country’s greatest players of all time. He appeared in 76 playoff games in Israel, in which he scored 842 points, ranking 14th on Israel’s all-time playoff scoring list.
He is survived by his wife Ariela and three children. Their daughter, Danil, is married to former Israeli basketball player Gal Mekel, who played in the NBA for the Dallas Mavericks and briefly for the New Orleans Pelicans.