NBA Legend and Broadcaster Bill Walton Passes Away at 71

NBA Legend and Broadcaster Bill Walton Passes Away at 71

After winning two NBA championships, Bill Walton transitioned into a successful career in broadcasting

Bill Walton, a revered NBA Hall of Famer and renowned broadcaster, has passed away at the age of 71, following a prolonged battle with cancer, as announced by the league on Monday.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver fondly remembered Walton as “truly one of a kind.” Walton’s legacy extends beyond his exceptional college basketball career in California; he also triumphed over a stutter to establish a successful broadcasting career.

Standing tall at 6-foot-11, Walton played center for the UCLA basketball team from 1971 to 1974. His leadership led the Bruins to two championship victories and an impressive 88-game winning streak.

In 1974, Walton was the No.1 overall draft pick by the Portland Trail Blazers, marking the beginning of his professional NBA journey. He led the Trail Blazers to their first and only championship title in 1977, also securing the prestigious Most Valuable Player award that season.

Nine years later, Walton claimed his second NBA championship with the Boston Celtics. On Monday, Commissioner Silver praised Walton’s “unique all-around skills,” adding that he “redefined the center position” as a Hall of Fame player.

Walton’s professional career spanned only 468 games, cut short due to chronic foot injuries. However, his contribution to basketball did not end there.

Walton transitioned into an illustrious and vibrant Emmy Award-winning commentator, bringing his “infectious enthusiasm and love for the game,” according to Silver. This was a remarkable achievement, considering his pronounced stutter in early life.

Walton once confided to radio host John Canzano in 2017, “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.” He overcame this at the age of 28, which he considered his “greatest accomplishment.”

Apart from his engaging commentary, Walton was easily recognizable in the media booth, donning his bright tie-dyed T-shirts. Silver reminisced, “What I will remember most about him was his zest for life. He was a regular presence at league events – always upbeat, smiling ear to ear and looking to share his wisdom and warmth.”

UCLA’s basketball coach, Mick Cronin, added, “It’s very hard to put into words what he has meant to UCLA’s program, as well as his tremendous impact on college basketball.”

Walton was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. He is survived by his wife and four sons, including Luke Walton, a former NBA player and current assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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