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NBA great Will Walton dies of cancer

NBA great Will Walton dies of cancer

  • PublishedMay 27, 2024

Walton was a familiar face to basketball fans for more than half a century, first as a star player and later as a sportscaster.

WASHINGTON — Two-time NBA champion Bill Walton has died of cancer, the league confirmed Monday. Walton was 71. 

In a statement, the NBA offered condolences to his family, friends and fans. Adam Silver, the NBA’s commissioner, praised Walton’s “infectious enthusiasm and love for the game.” 

“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,” Silver said in the statement. “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.” 

Walton was a familiar face to basketball fans for more than half a century. In college, he played for the UCLA Bruins, helping the team win the NCAA championship in 1972 and 1973. He was awarded three consecutive national college player of the year awards, and led the Bruins on an 88-game winning streak. 

His professional career began in 1974, when he was selected as the first-round draft pick by the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Over the next 14 years, Walton would show his prowess as a center, winning numerous awards including being named the NBA’s most valuable player in 1978. 

In 1977 and 1986, he went on with the Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics, respectively, to win the NBA championship. His original jersey, No. 32, was retired by the Trail Blazers when he left the team in 1979. 

After being injured in the 1986-87 season, Walton retired as a player after playing only ten games that season. 

When he retired, Walton continued to dedicate his life to the sport. He overcame a lifelong stutter and began his second career as a sportscaster, providing both studio analysis and color commentary for several networks and teams. 

Walton is survived by his wife Lori and the four sons he had with his first wife, Susie: Adam, Nathan, Luke and Chris. 

Luke Walton also became an NBA player, winning both the 2009 and 2010 NBA Finals with the Lakers. The younger Walton’s success made them the first father-son pair to have both won multiple NBA championships. 

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