Bill Walton dies at 71: Exploring career of 2x NBA champion & more

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Stanford
Exploring Bill Walton's NBA career

NBA legend Bill Walton died aged 71 after a prolonged battle with cancer. The retired center had a huge legacy both on and off the court, earning a lot of love of respect from his peers and the fans who saw him play against other legends of the game.

Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the player died on Monday at age 71 due to the disease he had been fighting for years.

"Hall of Fame center Bill Walton has died of cancer, the NBA says. He was 71."

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Bill Walton didn't have a record-breaking NBA career, but his impact on the game was more than notable. He was a winner from a young age, leading the UCLA Bruins to back-to-back championships in 1972 and 1973, boasting a perfect 30-0 season in each season under legendary coach John Wooden.

He was drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. It didn't take long for him to make another statement, this time leading the team to an NBA championship in 1977. Bill Walton was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player during that series. He won the regular-season MVP award the following season.

While Walton's career wasn't as spectacular as others, he managed to leave a huge mark on the game. Foot and knee injuries derailed his career, ultimately playing only 468 games.

He still found a way to stay relevant and win one more title before he called it a career. After leaving Portland in 1979, he played for the San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers until 1985.

The following season, he joined the Boston Celtics to serve as a backup for Robert Parish. This move paid off for the player and the team, as he won the Sixth Man of the Year award and the NBA championship in 1986.

Walton finished his career with 6,215 points, 4,923 rebounds, 1,034 blocks and 1,590 assists. He was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1973 and earned a spot on the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams.

Adam Silver issues statement on Bill Walton's passing

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement on Walton's tragic passing, recalling the impact that Walton had as a player, broadcaster and person:

“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."

Silver added:

"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.
“As a cherished member of the NBA family for 50 years, Bill will be deeply missed by all those who came to know and love him. My heartfelt condolences to Bill’s wife, Lori; his sons, Adam, Nate, Luke and Chris; and his many friends and colleagues.”

Bill Walton will be remembered as one of the best centers in NBA history for many years to come.

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