Breaking News: Bill Walton, NBA Champion and Hall of Famer, Dead at 71

Bill Walton, NBA, College Basketball, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, UCLA

Bill Walton, who won two NBA championships to highlight a sterling Basketball Hall of Fame career, died on Monday from cancer. He was 71.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Walton’s death through the NBA office. “Bill Walton was truly one of a kind,” Silver said in a statement. “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.”

Walton, nicknamed “The Big Redhead,” led the Portland Trail Blazers to their only NBA title in 1977. He played a backup role on the Boston Celtics’ NBA title team in 1986. Injuries plagued him throughout his career, often sidelining him for weeks on end.

After his playing days, though, Bill Walton gained many new fans. He shared his honest opinions while being an analyst on college basketball games. Walton usually was paired on ESPN with play-by-play voice Dave Pasch. It was not an unusual sight to see Walton wearing a tie-dyed T-shirt. He was an unabashed fan of the Grateful Dead, calling himself a “Dead Head” without shame.

Bill Walton Shared Basketball Knowledge With Fans

Bill Walton, NBA, Basketball Hall of Fame, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, ESPN, College Basketball
CLEVELAND, OHIO – FEBRUARY 18: Bill Walton is seen during the Ruffles NBA All-Star Celebrity Game during the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend at Wolstein Center on February 18, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

He joined ESPN as a lead analyst for NBA games in 2002, but Bill Walton moved to the college basketball scene in 2012. In 2009, he earned a spot among the top 50 sports broadcasters of all time by the American Sportscasters Association.

But Walton was a fierce competitor on the court. His 6-foot-11, 210-pound frame was solid enough to hold up against other top NBA centers and forwards in his day.

Upon hearing of Walton’s death, broadcaster Rachel Nichols shared a memory from her time at ESPN. It shows Walton deciding to take a piece of art of him away from the studio.

My favorite Bill Walton experience: when he came to visit us at The Jump, saw a framed photo we had on set of Bill Russell (his favorite player), and simply walked over, grabbed it – and took it home,” Nichols wrote on X. “The whole thing was absolutely delightful. What a force; he will be so missed”.

ESPN talk show host Mike Greenberg also went on X to share his memories of Walton. “Absolutely crushed to hear of the passing of the legendary Bill Walton, whose intellect, sense of humor, and zest for life were even bigger than he was,” Greenberg wrote.

“He was also, when healthy, every bit as good a big man as there ever was, with a game that was decades ahead of his time – he’d have been perfect in today’s NBA. Sending love and condolences to his family, I will cherish the memories of our many conversations for the rest of my life.”

Funeral arrangements are pending. Walton’s family has made no further announcements.

About the Author

Joe Rutland is an author, writer, and editor whose work has appeared on numerous large-scale digital platforms. Among them are Entrepreneur, The Good Men Project, The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and Elite Daily. Rutland is on X @JosephRutland5.

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