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Tags: nba | bill walton | cancer | basketball | prostate | ucla | broadcaster

Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton Dies at 71

By    |   Monday, 27 May 2024 02:06 PM EDT

Former NBA player and analyst Bill Walton has died after a prolonged battle with cancer at age 71.

"Hall of Fame center Bill Walton has died of cancer, the NBA says," reporter Adrian Wojnarowski posted Monday on X. "He was 71."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver wrote in a statement: "Bill Walton was truly one of a kind. As a Hall of Fame player, he redefined the center position. His unique all-around skills made him a dominant force at UCLA and led to an NBA regular-season and Finals MVP, two NBA championships and a spot on the NBA's 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams.

"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. I treasured our close friendship, envied his boundless energy and admired the time he took with every person he encountered."

Walton starred for John Wooden's UCLA Bruins before becoming a Hall of Famer and one of the biggest stars in basketball broadcasting

He was the NBA's MVP in the 1977-78 season, a two-time champion as a player and a member of both the NBA's 50th anniversary 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.

Walton, who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1993, was larger than life, on the court and off. His NBA career — disrupted by chronic foot injuries — lasted only 468 games with Portland, then San Diego, and eventually, Los Angeles Clippers and Boston. He averaged 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds in those games, neither of those numbers exactly record-setting.

Still, 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.

"One of my guards said, 'Let's try something else,'" Wooden told The Associated Press in 2008 for a 35th anniversary retrospective on that game.

Wooden's response during that timeout: "Why? If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

They 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."

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Eric Mack

Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Former NBA player and analyst Bill Walton has died after a prolonged battle with cancer at age 71.
nba, bill walton, cancer, basketball, prostate, ucla, broadcaster
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2024-06-27
Monday, 27 May 2024 02:06 PM
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