Bill Walton Dies At 71

Two-time NBA champion and Basketball Hall of Fame member Bill Walton passed away after battling cancer on Sunday, the NBA announced in a statement.

“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 was a force the UCLA Bruins at the peak of the program’s dominance in the early 70’s He secured back-to-back championships with the team and was named National College Player of the year three times.

The California native continued to have a successful career with the NBA, where he secured two championship rings, one with the Portland Trailblazers in 1977 and another with the Boston Celtics in 1986. For his 1977 championship effort, Walton was named as finals MVP.

1977 proved to be the most effective year of Walton’s storied career, as he led the league in blocks and rebounds enroute to a first-team All-NBA nod.

After retiring from the game, Walton joined ESPN and ABC as an NBA analyst before switching to college basketball in 2012. He also worked for CBS and NBC and became one of the most beloved sportscasters in America. In 2009, he was named one of the top 50 sports broadcasters of all-time by the American Sportscasters Association.

“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,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.

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