Freeman Cebu Sports

Bill Walton, 1952-2024

NBA BUZZ - Bobby Motus - The Freeman

Many had been wondering what if Bill Walton never had the misfortune of have having an assortment of foot and knee injuries.  Could he have been better than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain?

Named national college player of the year three times, Walton, as a sophomore and junior, led the UCLA Bruins in back-to-back US NCAA basketball titles in 1972 and 1973.  The Bruins at that time dominated collegiate hoops and their 1973 title was their ninth in ten years.  As a starting center, he played three seasons at UCLA where they only had four losses for the whole of three seasons.

Along with Abdul-Jabbar, they became the first two UCLA men’s basketball players whose jersey numbers were retired in a 1990 ceremony.  UCLA women’s basketball stars Ann Myers and Denise Curry were also honored in that ceremony.

The bearded Walton was Portland’s top pick in the 1974 Draft and went through injuries and two losing seasons before winning the championships in 1977 as well as the Finals MVP.  He finished second to Adbul-Jabbar in the MVP voting.   The following year, he was named the league MVP, his fourth NBA season.

Walton never played 70 games in a season.  His 1978 MVP season saw him play only 58 games.  He missed three full seasons (1978-1979, 1980-1981 and 1981-1982.   He underwent more than 30 orthopedic surgeries, mostly on his ankles and feet.

In his 2016 memoir, “Back from the Dead: Searching for the Sound, Shining the Light and Throwing it Down”, he wrote, “My feet were not built to last or to play basketball.  My skeletal, structural foundation – inflexible and rigid – could not absorb the endless stress and impact of running, jumping, turning, twisting and pounding for 26 years.”

He said it was his malformed feet that led to numerous stress fractures that ultimately led to his retirement from active play.

His ten seasons in the league were spent playing for the San Diego Clippers (LA Clippers) and the Boston Celtics, aside from Portland.  It was with the Celtics in 1986 with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish that Walton won his second NBA title, winning the series in six games over the Houston Rockets.  He played a career-high 80 games that season and was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year awardee.

After his basketball career, Walton turned to sports broadcasting.   He worked both as a studio analyst and color commentator for Prime Ticket Network, CBS Sports and NBC Sports.   He covered the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics.  In 2002, Walton joined ESPN and ABC as an NBA analyst.  He also often served with the broadcast crew at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion as well as other PAC-12 basketball venues.

Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006, Walton was named to the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary teams.

He surrendered to cancer at age 71.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with