Hall Of Famer Bill Walton Passes Away

Former NBA star and Hall of Famer Bill Walton has died at the age of 71, the league announced today (Twitter link). According to the NBA’s release, Walton passed away surrounded by family following a “prolonged” battle with cancer.

“Bill Walton was truly one of a kind,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said as part of a longer statement. “As a Hall of Fame player, he redefined the center position. … 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. But 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.”

Walton played his college ball at UCLA, winning a pair of national championships in 1972 and 1973 and earning national college player of the year honors for three straight seasons from 1972-74. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1974 draft and won championships with the Trail Blazers in 1977 and the Celtics in 1986, as well as an MVP award with Portland in 1978.

Walton was the NBA Finals MVP in ’77 after having led the league in both rebounds and blocked shots per game during that season. He earned an All-Star nod and made the All-Defensive First Team in both ’77 and ’78, then won the Sixth Man of the Year award in ’86.

A long list of injuries affecting his back, knees, ankles, and feet cut Walton’s career short and limited his availability when he did play. He ultimately appeared in just 468 career regular season contests – the equivalent of fewer than six 82-game seasons – for the Blazers, Clippers, and Celtics, averaging 13.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.2 blocks in 28.3 minutes per night.

Walton was named to the NBA’s 50th anniversary and 75th anniversary teams honoring the best players in league history.

Following his playing career, Walton was an NBA and NCAA color commentator for several networks, including CBS, NBC, and ABC/ESPN. His son Luke Walton also played in the NBA and has since gone into coaching — Luke spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Cavaliers.

Our condolences go out to Bill’s family and friends.

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