Home Sports Hall of Fame basketball legend Bill Walton dies at 71

Hall of Fame basketball legend Bill Walton dies at 71

0 comment
Los Angeles, CA – January 5: Two-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Bill Walton died of cancer at the age of 71. Former UCLA Bruins Bill Walton showing off his CFP championship teams, TCU and Georgia, they have black eye decals like the UCLA Bruins. defeated the USC Trojans 60-58 during an NCAA men's basketball game at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Two-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Bill Walton died of cancer at the age of 71. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

The world of basketball has lost one of its most colorful characters. Hall of Fame basketball legend Bill Walton has died at 71the NBA announced Monday, after battling cancer in recent years.

Born on November 5, 1952 in La Mesa, California, just east of San Diego, Walton had a renowned collegiate career at UCLA under iconic coach John Wooden. During his career at Westwood, the 6-foot-11 center won two national championships (in 1972-73) and three national college player of the year awards, and was a three-time All-American. His teams lost only four games in his three seasons as a varsity player (freshmen were not allowed to play back then), with an overall record of 86-4.

His success continued in the NBA. No. 1 overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, he won an NBA championship in 1977 and the MVP award (averaging 18.9 points and 13.2 rebounds) in 1978. But he struggled against chronic foot injuries that limited him to 209 games (out of a possible 328) played in four seasons.

After missing the entire 1978-79 season to protest how his and his teammates’ injuries had been treated, Walton signed with the San Diego Clippers as a free agent. He played only 169 games in six seasons and missed two full seasons due to foot injuries.

In 1985, Walton was traded to the Boston Celtics. He played in a career-high 80 games during the 1985-86 season and won another NBA championship as the sixth man on a team with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Walton played 10 games the following season and retired after injuries prevented him from playing the 1986-87 campaign.

“Bill Walton was truly unique,” 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 him to an NBA regular season and Finals MVP, two NBA championships. NBA and a place in the 50th and 75th positions of the NBA anniversary teams.”

“What I will remember most about him was his enthusiasm for life,” Silver added. “He is always optimistic, smiling from ear to ear and seeking to share his wisdom and warmth.”

Walton was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Generations of basketball fans likely know Walton best as an eccentric basketball announcer. During the first 20 years of his television career, he called college and NBA games for CBS, NBC, the Clippers and ESPN/ABC.

After a three-year absence while recovering from back surgery (to alleviate injuries dating back to his playing career), Walton returned as a full-time analyst for ESPN. He also called NBA games on NBC with Marv Albert, Greg Gumbel and Steve “Snapper” Jones.

Frequently going off on tangents that had little or nothing to do with the action in court (sometimes referencing recreational drug use, bizarre trivia, his love of the Grateful Dead, and his political beliefs), Walton became a color commentator. enormously popular. Play-by-play partners, including Dave Pasch and Jason Benetti, frequently had to maintain a deadpan sense of humor knowing that Walton could go anywhere with narration and analysis.

In 2009, Walton was named as one of The 50 Greatest Sports Announcers of All Time by the American Sportscasters Association.

“Beyond his notable accomplishments as a player, his relentless energy, his enthusiasm for the game and his unwavering candor have been the hallmarks of his larger-than-life personality.” UCLA head coach Mick Cronin said in a statement..

“As a passionate UCLA alumnus and broadcaster, he loved being around our players, listening to their stories, and sharing his wisdom and advice. To me, as a coach, he was honest, kind, and always had his heart in the right place. I will miss him a lot. It’s hard to imagine a season at Pauley Pavilion without him.”

You may also like