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#pounditFriday, June 14, 2024

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar issues statement on death of Bill Walton

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaking

Feb 16, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks as Clyde Drexler looks during the 2014 NBA All-Game Legends Brunch at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar issued a statement on Monday regarding the death of his fellow former UCLA Bruins legend, Bill Walton.

Walton died on Monday at the age of 71 after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. Before becoming an NBA MVP and two-time NBA champion, Walton was a dominant center at UCLA. Walton led the Bruins to two national championships (1072 and 1973), an 88-game winning streak, and he won national player of the year three times.

Walton continued the tradition of dominant centers at UCLA, following Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, led UCLA to three straight national championships. He won national player of the year three years in a row from 1967-1969 and also won most oustanding player of the NCAA Tournament three times.

Abdul-Jabbar’s statement termed Walton his “very close friend.”

“My very close friend, fellow Bruin, and NBA rival Bill Walton died today,” Abdul-Jabbar began his statement. “And the world feels so much heavier now.

“On the court, Bill was a fierce player, but off the court he wasn’t happy unless he did everything he could to make everyone around him happy.

“He was the best of us.”

Abdul-Jabbar noted that Walton was an NBA rival for him. While Abdul-Jabbar played for the Bucks and Lakers as a pro, Walton played for the Trail Blazers, Clippers and Celtics.

The two men combined to win five NCAA championships for UCLA, all under John Wooden. They are regarded as two of the greatest college basketball players ever.

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