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#pounditThursday, June 20, 2024

Bill Walton dies – dead at 71

Bill Walton smiling

Nov 15, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Pac-12 Networks commentator Bill Walton watches during the NCAA basketball game between the UCLA Bruins and the UNLV Rebels Pauley Pavilion. UCLA defeated UNLV 71-54. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NBA legend Bill Walton has died.

The NBA announced in a press release that Walton died on Sunday following a lengthy battle with prostate cancer.

“Bill Walton was truly one of a kind,” NBA commissioner Adam 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.

“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 played for the Trail Blazers, Clippers and Celtics during his NBA career. He won a championship with Portland in 1977 and was named NBA Finals MVP. He then won another title when he was with Boston in 1986.

Walton, who was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 1978, played in college at UCLA under John Wooden. Walton won three consecutive College Basketball Player of the Year awards from 1972-74. He led the Bruins to back-to-back national championships and an 88-game winning streak in 1972 and 1973.

Walton was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He was known as much for his quirky personality as he was his dominance on the court.

After beginning his broadcasting career in 1990, Walton gained even more popularity for his controversial takes and fearlessness while on the air. His most recent unhinged moment came just last November when he was calling a game early in the college basketball season.

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