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Bill Walton played through pain and injuries. He was rewarded late in his career being a member of the 1986 NBA championship Boston Celtics team. It was his second NBA title - (Steve Lipofsky photo)


Jack Ramsey coached Walton with the 1977 NBA Champion Portland Trail Blazers


Bill Walton's sideburns and facial hair was not a part of then UCLA coach John Wooden's program. In order to be on the team Walton had to change his ways

As a sports journalist Walton went the clean cut route


Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics Larry Bird in Game two of the 1985 NBA Finals at Boston Garden Date 30 May 1985 - Steve Lipofsky www.Basketballphoto.com



James Loving/National Radio Text Service



Walton was known for his strong beliefs. He was a protester of the Vietnam War. He also was a fan of the Grateful Dead band, and was fondly referred to as a deadhead. He was a true product of the revolutionary 60's generation. That is until he met up with his then new coach John Wooden - THIS DAY IN THE NBA - NBA's ALL TIME BEST PLAYERS 1st and 2nd TEAMS


Wednesday May 29, 2024


When I saw Bill Walton's name was trending on Yahoo I wondered what is he up to now. When I scrolled down I saw why, the first word out of my mouth was WHAT! Walton had passed away at only 71 years of age.

I remember Walton fondly as being a great player that gave his all but more importantly he was a GREAT HUMAN BEING. He was a down to earth guy that seemed to be the type of person that would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. What I remember most is he helped me in my venture into a sports broadcasting journalism career.

Oddly enough Walton also was beginning his sports broadcasting career. At the time he was a color analyst for UCLA basketball games. It was the beginning for me being a field producer for features for NCAA basketball tournament. I also field produced features for an NCAA show on the CBS radio network. The timing was right and Walton was the perfect subject for both programs.

After the game I asked Walton if he would do an interview with me. He immediately responded sure and said he had to finish up his work and if I could wait until he was through.

I waited until we were the last two individuals left in Pauley Pavilion. We did the interview and continued to talk as we walked out together to the underground parking area where his car was located. My car was in different location on campus above ground. When he tried to open the garage door it was locked. He was annoyed and I felt guilty.

I offered to drive him home not realizing that he lived in the San Diego area. He said no and could handle it. From that day forward I felt guilty about the incident and blamed myself for causing him to be in a trying situation.

At the time I didn't relate that he was a member of a squad that won two NCAA titles for the school in 1972 and 1973, both in perfect 30-0 seasons. In the '73 title game, Walton took 22 shots and missed only one, scoring a championship contest-record 44 points.

The team at one point won 88 straight games, a men's record that still stands. In each of his three varsity seasons, Walton was the national college player of the year and an All-American. He was the # 1 pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1974 draft.

While being locked out of the garage to get to his car he seemed somewhat frustrated but not defeated. For me it didn't compute that he knew most everyone and everything there was to know about the campus.

It was his college exposure to then head coach John Wooden that seemed to mature Walton the most. The big red head was highly sought after. He chose UCLA because as he said he wanted to go to the school that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Walt Hazzard attended.

Walton was known for his strong beliefs. He was a protester of the Vietnam War. He also was a fan of the Grateful Dead band, and was fondly referred to as a deadhead. He was a true product of the revolutionary 60's generation. That is until he met up with his then new coach John Wooden.

Former Bruin and NBA player Keith Erickson was asked what the funniest John Wooden story he had heard. Although Erickson was eight years Walton's elder this story was a UCLA classic.

As Erickson related:

Probably when confronted by a young, high-spirited Bill Walton, who was standing in front of, towering over and questioning the authority of Coach Wooden to tell him that the rule for the team was to have sideburns no lower than the ear. Coach said that he appreciated those that stood up for their opinions, but that he made the rules and that he was going to miss Bill that season because he sure could have helped them out, and that if he wanted to play that year he had six minutes to be on the floor with his sideburns cut... and then all they could see was the backside of Bill as he went running up to the training room to get his sideburns cut to be back in those six minutes!

Walton was expressive but it was Wooden that got in his ear. In recalling my interview with Bill the thing that stands out the most is how regretful he was that the team he was leading lost and broke UCLA's 88 game winning streak and the seven straight NCAA titles under Wooden's leadership.

That guilt would carry over as an adult as Walton would have a relationship with coach until he passed at 99-years of age.

One thing I recall is Walton picking up coach to take him to appear on a TV show with Roy Firestone. It was Wooden's show but Walton stood by offering support and praise of his former coach and somewhat father figure. He loved and respected coach Wooden.

Walton was also appreciative that the Boston Celtics gave him a chance to win another NBA title in 1986. The 6'11" center was hobbled by injuries that limited his ability to play throughout his career. His ability to get the most out his injuries had me refer to him as Mr. MMPG = More Miles Per Game.

During his 10-year NBA career he played only 468 of a potential 820 regular season games. He joined the Celtics after four seasons with the then San Diego (1979-80 to 84 then LA Clippers (1984-85). With the Clips he played in only 169 of a potential 328 games.

When you put that into perspective, Walton must hold the record of being an NBA Hall of Fame player that achieved that honor by playing the least amount of games.

He also must hold the record for getting the most stellar production out of a fragile body. He played 90 of 164 games with the Celts.

Playing as a backup center behind Robert Parish, Walton earned the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in the 1985–86 season. He was named to the NBA's 50th and 75th anniversary teams. Walton was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Walton spent the 1987-88 season on the Celtics' injured list. He attempted a comeback in February 1990, but injuries intervened and he eventually retired as a player.

Overall, for the Celtics Walton shot 55.1% and averaged 7.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 blocks in 18 minutes. Ironically Walton and I would indirectly work together in the journalism business. He was an analyst for Clipper games while I functioned as a field producer, reporter and columnist with the Clippers being my NBA beat.

One of my most memorable experiences with the big redhead was after a Clippers game when I interviewed his former coach Jack Ramsey in the press room. Walton was at his desk diligently finishing his work. Ramsey coached Walton with the 1997 NBA Champion Portland Trail Blazers. I brought Walton's name up regarding his contribution to that success. I could feel Bill's ears perk up.

That team was a unique young hustle team. They started the season slow and finished second in the Pacific Division four games behind the Los Angeles Lakers with a 49-33 record. Walton led the league with a 14.4 rebound per game average. He was the second leading scorer on the squad with an 18.6 average trailing Maurice Lucas.

Lucas was one of Walton's all time favorite teammates. He would rave about him whenever the Trail Blazers experience came up. Lucas was also in the leagues top 10 in rebounding.

Although so much time had passed I continued to have so much guilt and embarrassment I don't recall talking to him except on one occasion asking him about a friend of his that I knew from the music business.

I will remember Walton as a humorous, gregarious person that had a unique bubbly personality that brought joy to everyone that he came in contact with. He will be missed greatly by those of us that were fortunate to know him. Bill… RIP

Career highlights and awards 2× NBA champion (1977, 1986) NBA Finals MVP (1977) NBA Most Valuable Player (1978) 2× NBA All-Star (1977, 1978) All-NBA First Team (1978) All-NBA Second Team (1977) 2× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1977, 1978) NBA Sixth Man of the Year (1986) NBA rebounding leader (1977) NBA blocks leader (1977) No. 32 retired by Portland Trail Blazers NBA anniversary team (50th, 75th) 2× NCAA champion (1972, 1973) 2× NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player (1972, 1973) 3× National college player of the year (1972–1974) 3× Consensus first-team All-American (1972–1974) James E. Sullivan Award (1973) No. 32 retired by UCLA Bruins


May 29, 1995 - Rik Smits of Indiana swished a foul line jumper with no time left on the clock to lead the host Pacers to a 94-93 win over Orlando in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Prior to Smits’ game-winning shot, the lead had changed hands three times over the final 13.3 seconds, with Indiana’s Reggie Miller and Orlando’s Brian Shaw and Anfernee Hardaway all nailing three-point field goals.


1st Team
2nd Team
Larry Bird
Elgin Baylor
Julius Erving
Bill Russell
Wilt Chamberlain
Michael Jordan
Step Curry
Magic Johnson
Oscar Robertson
11th & 12th MAN SUBSTITUTES & Coach


On October 29, 1996 In conjunction with the NBA’s 50th anniversary celebration, the list of The 50 Greatest Players in NBA History was announced. It included: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Nate Archibald, Paul Arizin, Charles Barkley, Rick Barry, Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, Billy Cunningham, Dave DeBusschere, Clyde Drexler, Julius Erving, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, George Gervin, Hal Greer, John Havlicek, Elvin Hayes, Earvin Johnson, Sam Jones, Michael Jordan, Jerry Lucas, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Pete Maravich, Kevin McHale, George Mikan, Earl Monroe, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Robert Parish, Bob Pettit, Scottie Pippen, Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, David Robinson, Bill Russell, Dolph Schayes, Bill Sharman, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Nate Thurmond, Wes Unseld, Bill Walton, Jerry West, Lenny Wilkens, and James Worthy




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