Hall of Famer Bill Walton, 2-time champ at UCLA and in NBA, dies - ESPN

Via:  Gsquared  •  2 months ago  •  8 comments

By:   ESPN. com

Hall of Famer Bill Walton, 2-time champ at UCLA and in NBA, dies - ESPN
Bill Walton, who won two NCAA titles with UCLA and two NBA championships during a Hall of Fame career, died Monday at age 71 after a prolonged battle with cancer.

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Basketball legend Bill Walton, who led the UCLA Bruins to two national titles before winning two championships during his NBA career, has died at the age of 71 after a prolonged battle with cancer.

The NBA issued a statement saying Walton died Monday while surrounded by his family.

"Bill Walton was truly one of a kind," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

He was the NBA's MVP in the 1977-78 season and a member of the league's 50th and 75th anniversary teams. That all followed a college career in which he was a two-time champion at UCLA and a three-time national player of the year under iconic coach John Wooden.

"What I will remember most about him was his zest for life," Silver said in his statement. "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.

"As a cherished member of the NBA family for 50 years, Bill will be deeply missed by all those who came to know and love him."

Walton, who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1993, was larger than life on the court, off the court and during his broadcasting career.

His NBA career -- disrupted by chronic foot injuries -- lasted only 468 games with Portland Trail Blazers, the San Diego and eventually LA Clippers and Boston Celtics. He averaged a double-double in those games -- 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds, neither of those numbers exactly record-setting.

However, his impact on the game was massive.

His most famous game was the 1973 NCAA title game, UCLA against Memphis, in which he shot an incredible 21 for 22 from the field and led the Bruins to another national championship.

The Bruins kept giving the ball to Walton, and he kept delivering in a performance for the ages.

"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," UCLA coach Mick Cronin said Monday. "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.

"As a passionate UCLA alumnus and broadcaster, he loved being around our players, hearing their stories and sharing his wisdom and advice. For me as a coach, he was honest, kind and always had his heart in the right place. I will miss him very much. It's hard to imagine a season in Pauley Pavilion without him."

Walton originally joined ESPN and ABC in 2002 as a lead analyst for NBA games before shifting to college basketball in 2012. He also worked for CBS and NBC and was named one of the top 50 sports broadcasters of all-time by the American Sportscasters Association in 2009.

"As a Hall of Fame player, he redefined the center position," Silver said. "Bill then translated his infectious enthusiasm and love for the game to broadcasting, where he delivered insightful and colorful commentary which entertained generations of basketball fans."

The first overall pick of the 1974 NBA draft by the Trail Blazers, the 6-foot-11 Walton played 10 seasons in the NBA, winning championships with the Blazers (1977) and the Celtics (1986). He averaged a double-double over his career, totaling 6,215 points (13.3 per game), 4,923 rebounds (10.5 per game), 1,034 blocks (2.2 per game) and 1,590 assists.

A two-time All-Star, he led the NBA in rebounding and blocks in 1977 and was the league's Sixth Man of the Year in 1986.

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Professor Principal
1  seeder  Gsquared    2 months ago

Tragic loss.  I had a class with Bill at UCLA.  Saw him at a Grateful Dead Concert at Pauley Pavilion when we were in school and an on-campus Vietnam protest.  And, he was one hell of a basketball player.  Great guy.

See you later on, Bill.

Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Gsquared @1    2 months ago

one of the unique all time greats in the sport from back when I cared about basketball. RIP bill.

Professor Principal
2  JohnRussell    2 months ago

one of a kind

Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  Gsquared  replied to  JohnRussell @2    2 months ago

That he was.

Drinker of the Wry
Senior Expert
3  Drinker of the Wry    2 months ago

Such a strong, enthusiastic man.  A reminder that no matter how strong, how much a love of life, doesn’t necessarily make the difference with the scourge of cancers.

Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  Gsquared  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @3    2 months ago

One way or another the outcome is the same for all of us.

Professor Guide
4  Tacos!    2 months ago

He’ll be missed. Always a positive voice in the sport.

Poor guy was hurt so much. Although, considering the shoes they wore in those days, running back and forth on a wooden floor, it’s a miracle that more of them didn’t have chronic foot issues.

Sparty On
Professor Principal
5  Sparty On    2 months ago

Bummer.    He was a bright light in an often dull world.

RIP Bill, you old Deadhead


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