Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton Succumbs to Cancer at 71

Updated On May 28, 2024 by Landon Wheeler

Bill WaltonTwo-time NCAA champion at UCLA, two-time NBA champion, and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Bill Walton has succumbed to cancer at age 71.

The news was brought forward by the league on behalf of Walton’s family.

Known for his nearly 7-foot frame, Walton was not only a legend on the court but also built himself an impressive career off the court as a chronic fun-seeker when he became a broadcaster who refused to comply with any of the conventional norms.

“Truly One of a Kind”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver called the league’s MVP in the 1977-78 season “truly one of a kind”.

Walton was also NBA’s sixth man of the year in the 1985-86 season as well as a member of the league’s 50th anniversary and 75th anniversary teams.

During his college years, he played under coach John Wooden at UCLA where he blossomed into a three-time national player of the year.

Fellow Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving took it to his social media to express his sadness on hearing the news that his “comrade” and “one of the sports world’s most beloved champions and characters has passed”.

Dr. J called competing against Walton, who “enjoyed life in every way”, as well as working with him “a blessing” in his life.

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Moment of Silence at the Eastern Conference Finals

The NBA commemorated Walton and held a moment of silence before the start of Game 4 of the Boston Celtics-Indiana Pacers matchup part of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night.

Walton entered the Hall of Fame in 1993 and was one of the most celebrated figures in basketball, despite his career being disrupted by a series of chronic foot injuries.

He played 468 games combined, representing the Portland Trail Blazers, the San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers, and the Celtics, and averaging 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds.

While none of these numbers set any records, his impact on the game was incommensurable.

In his tribute to Walton, which he called “one of the greatest ever to play the game”, Celtics icon Larry Bird said, “I love him as a friend and as a teammate”.

After retiring from the NBA, Walton turned to broadcasting and he shined at it, winning a prestigious Emmy award and being named one of the top 50 sports broadcasters of all time by the American Sportscasters Association.

He made an appearance on The New York Times’ bestseller list for his memoir, “Back from the Dead”.

ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro called Walton “a legendary player and a singular personality who genuinely cherished every experience throughout the journey of his extraordinary life”.

Pitaro added that while Walton used to describe himself as “the luckiest guy in the world”, “anyone who had the opportunity to interact with Bill was the lucky one.”

Bill Walton was an icon”, said Jody Allen, the chair of The Trail Blazers’ chair, Jody Allen, also called Walton’s on-court leadership and tenacity “key to bringing a championship” to their fans while defining “one of the most magical moments in franchise history”.

The Celtics also released a statement reading “Bill Walton was one of the most consequential players of his era”.

The icon spent the final years of his life lobbying on issues that mattered most to him, including the problem of homelessness in his native city of San Diego, asking city leaders to create shelter space to help the needy.

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