Sports world in mourning after death of Bill Walton

Walton, who had a prolonged fight with cancer, was 71


Bill Walton, who starred for John Wooden's UCLA Bruins before becoming a Hall of Famer and one of the biggest stars in basketball broadcasting, died Monday, the league announced on behalf of his family.

Walton, who had a prolonged fight with cancer, was 71.

NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry tells us the 6-foot-11 former center was a dominant force on the court in Boston in the mid to late 80s, helping them win a championship in 1986.

“Larry Bird helps convince the Celtics that Bill Walton should be their guy and he ends up being sixth man of the year," Perry said.

“He really relished what it meant to be a Celtic. The history of the Celtics, all the championships they already won.”

The two-time NBC champ also played with the Clippers and Blazers, and before that won two national titles at UCLA in the early 70s.

“He’s one of the best college players ever. There’s no question about it, and then he was this really gravitational player once he got to the NBA.”

Fans outside the TD Garden mourned the loss of the former Celtics star and broadcaster, who worked for NBC for years after his NBA retirement.

“He was one of the most colorful, one of the most iconic broadcasters, because he had this rare personality.”

Larry Bird shared a statement about Walton's passing via ESPN.

"I am very sorry about my good friend, Bill Walton. I love him as a friend and teammate. It was a thrill for me to play with my childhood idol and together we earned an NBA Championship in 1986. He is one of the greatest ever to play the game," the statement read in part.

Many others took to social media to share their reactions to his passing, including the Boston Celtics.

"Bill Walton was one of the most consequential players of his era. A Hall of Famer, Most Valuable Player, and two-time NBA Champion, Walton could do it all, possessing great timing, complete vision of the floor, excellent fundamentals and was of one of the greatest passing big men in league history. He derived great joy from basketball and music, and deeply cherished his moments with teammates and friends," the team wrote on X.

Hall of Famer "Dr. J" Julius Irving expressed sadness on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"To compete against him & to work with him was a blessing in my life." wrote Irving.

His alma mater, UCLA, mourned his passing on social media.

Philadelphia 76ers President of basketball operations Daryl Morey shared an anecdote from the 1992 Olympics about Walton on social media.

He was the NBA's MVP in the 1977-78 season, a two-time champion as a player and a member of both the NBA's 50th anniversary and 75th anniversary teams. That all followed a college career in which he was a two-time champion at UCLA and a three-time national player of the year.

“Bill Walton,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, “was truly one of a kind.”

Walton, who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1993, was larger than life, on the court and off. His NBA career — disrupted by chronic foot injuries — lasted only 468 games with Portland, the San Diego and eventually Los Angeles Clippers and Boston.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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