|Birth: ||Dec. 25, 1927|
|Death: ||Jun. 1, 2008|
San Diego County
Son of Joseph V. & Florence E. Axelson
Married Rae Smith
Children- David Axelson, Mark Axelson & Linda Axelson Butler
SAN DIEGO - Joe Axelson, a former executive and general manager for the Cincinnati Royals who remained with the NBA team when the franchise moved first to Kansas City-Omaha and became the Kings, then later shifted to Sacramento, has died. He was 80.
Axelson died on Saturday at his home in Coronado, his son, David Axelson, said Sunday. The cause of death was not immediately determined.
Axelson has spent a lifetime in and around basketball. His father, also named Joe, was a successful high school coach in Illinois, and as the younger Axelson puts it, "We lived basketball morning, noon and night for 365 days a year and I had to learn to love it in self defense."
He began his career in the front office in the late 1960s, working for the Cincinnati Royals NBA franchise.
In 1971, the Royals moved to Kansas City-Omaha and were renamed the Kings. Axelson has been said to have played a major role in the relocation of the team.
He was the General Manager of the Kings for most of the period when they were in Kansas City.
The highest award he received came in 1973 when he was named the NBA's Executive of the Year. He was the first recipient of that award.
He left the Kings in 1979, but returned in 1982 to the same position three years prior to the franchise's final move to Sacramento.
He was believed to have played a major part in that relocation as well. Axelson lived in California for much of the latter years of his life.
During his years as an NBA executive, Axelson dealt with some of the most famous names in NBA history.
In Cincinnati, he traded Oscar Robertson to the Milwaukee Bucks. He also dealt Jerry Lucas, Nate Archibald and Norm Van Lier.
Among his moves as president of the Kings in Sacramento was to hire former Boston Celtics great Bill Russell as coach. Russell previously had coached at Boston and Seattle, but had been out of coaching for 10 years. The Kings foundered, Russell didn't last a full season before being moved into the front office, and Axelson was demoted to vice president in charge of business operations.
Axelson was part of a group that moved the franchise to Kansas City-Omaha after the 1971-72 season.
When the Kings were leaving for Sacramento, some Kansas City fans wore Joe Axelson masks to the final game at Kemper Arena. The Kings finished that 1984-85 season with a 31-51 record and averaged just 6,410 in attendance.
David Axelson said that since his father retired from basketball, he remained a devoted sports fan who followed the NBA and his lifelong favorite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs.
Axelson is survived by sons David and Mark; daughter Linda; and six grandchildren
Created by: Schott Family
Record added: Jul 06, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 28085201