Orlando Magic co-founder Pat Williams announced his retirement from the NBA on Monday after 51 years serving in various roles in the league.
Williams, the team's senior vice president, has been an executive in the NBA since becoming general manager of the Chicago Bulls in 1969. He served in that same role for the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers before moving to Orlando to help establish the expansion franchise.
"We are so grateful to Pat Williams for what he has done for sports in Orlando, Fla.," Magic chairman Dan DeVos said in a statement. "Back in 1986 sat this beautiful city in the center of the state that was the perfect spot to bring what was missing - NBA basketball to the great people of Orlando. On behalf of our entire family, we thank Pat for making the Magic a reality."
Williams, who turns 79 on Friday, is credited with bringing an NBA franchise to Orlando in 1989, and he became a staple at the NBA lottery after representing the Magic in back-to-back appearances. Williams was there when the team landed the No. 1 pick in the 1992 draft (eventually selecting Shaquille O'Neal) and in 1993 (trading Chris Webber for Penny Hardaway). When he was general manager of the 76ers, he drafted Charles Barkley, Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney and traded for Julius Erving and Moses Malone.
Williams was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2011. After he underwent chemotherapy and had a stem cell transplant, his cancer is in remission.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.