NBA Hall of Famer and Emmy Winner 'Bill Walton' Dies at 71

Bill Walton's legacy transcends his on-court achievements.

by Nouman Rasool
NBA Hall of Famer and Emmy Winner 'Bill Walton' Dies at 71
© Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Bill Walton, the iconic NBA Hall of Famer who redefined on-court and off-court basketball, has died at 71 after a long fight with cancer. His death was confirmed by the NBA on Monday night. That news leaves behind him a history of decades in excellence in both sports and on the airwaves.

As a player, he was able to put together some great performances really in his career. A star at UCLA under the guidance of coach John Wooden, he led the Bruins to NCAA championships in 1972 and 1973, including riding an unheard-of 88-game winning streak.

His performance against Memphis State—converting on 21 of 22 field goal attempts—was unbelievable and still regarded as one of the best in college basketball history.

Walton's NBA Triumphs

Drafted first overall in the1974 NBA Draft, by the Portland Trail Blazers, Walton led the team to its first- ever NBA championship, in 1977 and was awarded the NBA Finals MVP.

He also won another championship during his time with the Boston Celtics that occurred in 1986. During his playing career, he acquired numerous prestigious awards such as being a two-time NBA MVP and included on the NBA's 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams.

After his basketball career ended, Walton became an American sportscaster. His distinctive and booming voice was employed during his time at NBC and later ESPN in announcing NBA and college basketball games. He was also a proud recipient of an Emmy Award in 1991 for one of the winners of media sports, and in 1993 he enjoyed being inducted into the Hall of Fame in Basketball.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver remembered Walton not only for his contributions to the sport but his vibrant personality and enduring enthusiasm for life. "Bill Walton redefined the center position with his all-around skills," Silver said.

"He translated his infectious enthusiasm to broadcasting, entertaining generations with his insightful commentary. But beyond basketball, Bill's zest for life and his generous spirit left a lasting impression on everyone he met." Walton was not even limited to his on-court accomplishments.

He would attend NBA functions, always listening, to share knowledge and an enthusiasm for the sport. His legacy is made not so much through his accomplishments as by how he influenced and reached out to inspire fans and fellow athletes.