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Bill Walton, former NBA legend, dies at 71

Bill Walton

Basketball Hall of Famer Loses Battle with Cancer

Bill Walton, the legendary center who played in the NBA during the 1970s and 1980s, died this Monday at the age of 71. A two-time league champion with the Portland Trail Blazers (1976/77) and Boston Celtics (1985/86), the former player had been battling cancer for a long time. He was a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and also worked as a commentator for many years.

Walton entered the NBA in 1974 with enormous expectations, having been the first overall pick in that year’s draft — the selection of college athletes. In Portland, he began a career in which he became one of the most dominant players of all time. Not only a champion with the Blazers in 1977, he was also named the MVP — Most Valuable Player — of the following season.

Bill Walton

Upon leaving the franchise in 1979, he moved to the San Diego Clippers — now the Los Angeles Clippers — before joining the Celtics in 1985. Alongside the legendary Larry Bird and the great team that dominated the NBA in the 1980s, he won his second career title in his first season. As a veteran, he was the team’s first option off the bench and was still named the Sixth Man of the Year.

Retiring in 1988, Walton ended his career with 6,215 points, 4,923 rebounds, and 1,590 assists. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993. Afterward, he took up the microphone and became a respected commentator in the United States. The news of his death was confirmed by the NBA organization this afternoon. The league’s commissioner, Adam Silver, highlighted his enthusiasm and love for basketball:

“Bill Walton was one of a kind. As a Hall of Famer, he redefined the center position. His unique skills made him a dominant force in college and led him to a regular season MVP, NBA Finals MVP, two NBA titles, and a spot on the league’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams,” said Silver.

Bill was the father of Luke Walton, a former guard who played in the NBA from 2003 to 2013 and was also a two-time league champion with the Los Angeles Lakers (2008/09 and 2009/10). At 44, he continues his career as a coach and is currently an assistant with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Check out more about Bill Walton at NBA.com