Bill Walton, NBA Hall of Famer who won 2 championships, dies at 71

May 27, 2024
3,827 Views

Bill Walton’s long, strange trip


Bill Walton’s long, strange trip

04:30

Bill Walton, the dominant college big man who won a pair of NBA championships and later enjoyed a successful broadcasting career, has died, the NBA announced on Monday. He was 71.

Walton died after a prolonged battle with cancer, the league said. He was surrounded by his family.

“Bill Walton was truly one of a kind,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “As a Hall of Fame player, he redefined the center position. His unique all-around skills made him a dominant force at UCLA and led to an NBA regular-season and Finals MVP, two NBA championships and a spot on the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams.”

Walton was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1974 draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, and he led the team to their only NBA title in 1977. Named the league MVP in 1978, the 6-foot-11 Walton won another title as a member of the Boston Celtics in 1986, when he earned the Sixth Man of the Year award.  

Celebrities At The Los Angeles Clippers Game
Bill Walton attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns at Crypto.com Arena on April 20, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

/ Getty Images


But that season proved to be his last hurrah. Walton, who battled injuries throughout his career, would play just 22 more games between the regular season and playoffs before retiring in 1988. 

Before his pro career, Walton was a two-time champion at UCLA, leading the Bruins to titles in 1972 and 1973 and an 88-game winning streak. His 44 points in the national championship game in 1973 remain a record. Walton was also a three-time national player of the year at UCLA while playing for legendary coach John Wooden.

“On behalf of everyone with the UCLA men’s basketball program, we are deeply saddened to learn of Bill Walton’s passing,” UCLA head coach Mick Cronin said in a statement, adding: “Beyond his remarkable accomplishments as a player, it’s his relentless energy, enthusiasm for the game and unwavering candor that have been the hallmarks of his larger than life personality.”   

After his playing career, Walton overcame a pronounced stutter to become a successful sportscaster known for his colorful commentary, which often included catchphrases and hyperbole.

“In life, being so self-conscious, red hair, big nose, freckles and goofy, nerdy-looking face and can’t talk at all. I was incredibly shy and never said a word,” Walton told The Oregonian newspaper in 2017. “Then, when I was 28 I learned how to speak. It’s become my greatest accomplishment of my life and everybody else’s biggest nightmare.”  

A self-professed “Deadhead,” Walston sometimes appeared on TV wearing Grateful Dead T-shirts. He was also known to wear tie-dyed T-shirts while delivering his unique commentary, which could be equal parts entertaining and bewildering.

NCAA BASKETBALL: DEC 20 New Mexico at Arizona
Bill Walton watches the action during the second half of the college basketball game between the Arizona Wildcats and the New Mexico Lobos at McKale Center on December 20, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona. 

Chris Coduto/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


“What I will remember most about him was his zest for life,” Silver said. “He was a regular presence at league events – always upbeat, smiling ear to ear and looking to share his wisdom and warmth. I treasured our close friendship, envied his boundless energy and admired the time he took with every person he encountered.”

Walton was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.  

Source link

You may be interested

China picks 11 swimmers who tested positive for banned heart drugs
World
shares2,610 views
World
shares2,610 views

China picks 11 swimmers who tested positive for banned heart drugs

new admin - Jun 19, 2024

China is sending 11 swimmers embroiled in a doping scandal to the Paris 2024 Olympics.Among the 31-member swim roster it…

Get rid of flies in your home with simple and effective method
Lifestyle
shares3,058 views
Lifestyle
shares3,058 views

Get rid of flies in your home with simple and effective method

new admin - Jun 19, 2024

Summer is just around the corner which can only mean it is the return of pests including wasps, flies and…

How did Juneteenth get its name? Here’s the story behind the holiday’s title
Top Stories
shares2,091 views
Top Stories
shares2,091 views

How did Juneteenth get its name? Here’s the story behind the holiday’s title

new admin - Jun 19, 2024

June 19 marks the third consecutive year of Juneteenth as a federally recognized United States holiday. Also known as Freedom Day,…