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San Diego sports leader Bob Breitbard dies at 91 [Updated]

May 17, 2010 |  3:28 pm

BreitbardBob Breitbard, a key player in San Diego sports for decades who brought the NBA to the city as owner of the expansion San Diego Rockets, has died of natural causes. He was 91.

[Updated at 4:40 p.m.Breitbard died early Monday at an assisted living facility in Encinitas, said Alan Kidd, president of the San Diego Hall of Champions, a sports museum founded by Breitbard.

Breitbard's death was announced Monday by the San Diego Hall of Champions, a sports museum he founded. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported he died Sunday night. ]

"Bob is the patron saint of sports in San Diego," county Supervisor Ron Roberts told the Union-Tribune in 2004. "What he has done to help sports in San Diego, to help the kids and the fans enjoy sports all the more, puts him on a pedestal equal or higher than anyone."

Breitbard, born April 28, 1919, owned the San Diego Rockets from their first season in 1967-68 until he sold them in 1971. He also built the San Diego Sports Arena and owned the minor league San Diego Gulls hockey team.

A high school teammate and close friend of Ted Williams, Breitbard played football at San Diego State, graduating in 1941. He earned a master's degree in education from USC and returned to San Diego State in 1945 as a volunteer head football coach for the school's first postwar team after a three-year break.

Also in the 1940s he began an athletic foundation that honored San Diego County high school athletes.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Bob Breitbard. Credit: San Diego Hall of Champions