Hall Of Famer Bill Walton Died At 71 After Battle With Cancer

One of basketball’s all-time great players and personalities died on Monday, as the league announced the somber news that Bill Walton had passed away at age 71 after a prolonged battle with cancer.

“Bill Walton was truly one of a kind,” Adam Silver said in a release. “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 75t 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. 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.”

Walton won a pair of championships at UCLA, where he also was the three-time National Player of the Year before joining the Portland Trail Blazers and leading them to their lone NBA championship in 1977 (earning Finals MVP honors) before winning a second title as a member of the Boston Celtics in 1986. He won the league’s MVP award in 1978 and while injuries cut short the prime of his career, he averaged 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game across his 10-year career in Portland, San Diego, and Boston.

For all of Walton’s on-court accolades, most fans today know him because of his broadcasting work, particularly with NBC and ESPN. He would meander through various tangents and non-sequiturs about music, nature, and anything and everything that popped into his head, but his love of the game and celebratory attitude was always present.

There simply will never be another Bill Walton, and the game of basketball will miss his presence.