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Sports · 28 May 2024

NBA World Mourns: Bill Walton Dies of Cancer


					NBA World Mourns: Bill Walton Dies of Cancer Perbesar

Bill Walton, larger than life both on and off the court, passed away Monday at the age of 71 after a prolonged battle with cancer. Known for his nearly 7-foot frame and unparalleled skill, Walton was a two-time NCAA champion at UCLA and a two-time NBA champion. His accolades also include being named the NBA’s MVP in the 1977-78 season, the league’s sixth man of the year in 1985-86, and his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver paid tribute, saying, “Bill Walton was truly one of a kind.” Walton’s storied career began at UCLA under the legendary coach John Wooden, where he became a three-time national player of the year and led his team to a remarkable 88-game winning streak.

The basketball world expressed its sorrow over Walton’s passing. Fellow Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving noted, “Bill Walton enjoyed life in every way. To compete against him and to work with him was a blessing in my life.”

Walton’s impact on the game extended beyond his playing years. His NBA career, though hampered by chronic foot injuries, was marked by his time with the Portland Trail Blazers, the San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers, and the Boston Celtics. Despite playing only 468 games, he averaged 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds, numbers that belie his true influence on the sport.

Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd reflected on Walton’s legacy, stating, “It’s a legend lost when you talk about basketball and what he brought to the media side.” Indeed, Walton transitioned seamlessly into broadcasting, overcoming a pronounced stutter to become an Emmy-winning commentator known for his unconventional and joyful style.

Walton’s most memorable game remains the 1973 NCAA title match against Memphis, where he shot an astounding 21 for 22 from the field. UCLA coach John Wooden once remarked on Walton’s performance, “Why? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” during a timeout, highlighting Walton’s unstoppable prowess.

Beyond the court, Walton was a vibrant personality, known for his love of the Grateful Dead and his colorful commentary. He also championed various causes, particularly homelessness in his native San Diego. ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro remarked, “Bill’s one-of-a-kind spirit captivated and inspired audiences during his second career as a successful broadcaster.”

Walton’s influence began at UCLA, where his teams won their first 73 games. Digger Phelps, coach of the Notre Dame team that broke UCLA’s streak, shared his sorrow: “Bill Walton’s passing is a sad tragedy. One of the great ones in UCLA basketball history.”

After retiring from the NBA, Walton became a beloved broadcaster, recognized as one of the top 50 sports broadcasters by the American Sportscasters Association and a New York Times bestselling author for his memoir, “Back from the Dead.”

Walton’s contributions to basketball were profound, both as a player and a commentator. He was guided by two of the game’s greatest minds, Wooden and Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach, and was a favorite teammate of Larry Bird.

In his final years, Walton remained active in advocating for social issues and continued to be a vibrant presence at NBA events. Adam Silver summed up Walton’s legacy: “He was a regular presence at league events—always upbeat, smiling ear to ear and looking to share his wisdom and warmth.”

Bill Walton is survived by his wife Lori and sons Adam, Nate, Chris, and Luke, the latter of whom followed in his footsteps to the NBA and now coaches. His zest for life and boundless energy will be remembered by all who knew him.

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