Phil Sellers, Whose Basketball Stardom Was Short-Lived, Dies at 69

“I couldn’t play guard,” he told The Times in 1983. “They had doubts. Even me, I had doubts. There was no way I was going to be too sure of myself. That’s probably where the arrogance went.”

He was released before the start of the 1977-78 season but continued to play for a short while, for the minor league Jersey Shore Bullets and for HV Amstelveen, a team in the Netherlands.

After he stopped playing, he was a Rutgers assistant coach for four years and worked at various jobs, including records manager at Chemical Bank and the mortgage banking firm Margaretten; bus driver for New Jersey Transit; and, for about a dozen years, assistant to the chief executive at Northeast Sequoia Private Client Group, a real estate investment firm, where his roles included chief of staff, bodyguard and driver.

In addition to Ms. Palmer, whose mother, Patricia (Robertson) Sellers, married Sellers in 1999 and died 20 years later, he is survived by a son, Phillip III, from whose mother, Jean Edmonson, he was divorced; a sister, Diane Deas; a brother, Tyrone; and four grandchildren.

Although his basketball career ended abruptly, Sellers recognized with clarity that he had another, more everyday life ahead of him.

“I’m not going to be one of those guys sitting in the park saying, ‘I’ve been there,’” he told The Times in 1983, when he was back living with his parents. “Kids ask you, ‘What do you do?’ I tell them, ‘I go to work every day, shirt and tie.’ People see me. They say, ‘Phil’s working.’”

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