Sad News:Bill Walton, UCLA legend, NBA star and Pac-12 advocate, dies at age 71…Read more

The NBA announced Walton’s passing, leading to numerous tributes for the vibrant La Mesa, California native, who earned spots in both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

“Bill Walton was truly one of a kind. As a Hall of Fame player, he revolutionized the center position with his unique skills, making him a formidable player at UCLA and earning him an NBA regular-season and Finals MVP, two NBA championships, and a place on the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams,” stated NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “Bill then brought his infectious enthusiasm and love for the game to broadcasting, offering insightful and colorful commentary that entertained generations of basketball fans. But above all, I will remember his zest for life. He was a regular at league events, always upbeat, smiling, and eager to share his wisdom and warmth. I cherished our close friendship, admired his boundless energy, and appreciated the time he spent with everyone he met.”

Walton grew up listening to UCLA basketball radio broadcasts and quickly committed to joining the Bruins despite numerous other scholarship offers. His laid-back approach to life clashed at times with Wooden, but Walton called the legendary UCLA coach his lifelong mentor and friend.

“On behalf of everyone with the UCLA men’s basketball program, we are profoundly saddened by the news of Bill Walton’s passing,” said Bruins coach Mick Cronin. “It’s difficult to express what he has meant to UCLA’s program and his significant impact on college basketball. Beyond his remarkable achievements as a player, his boundless energy, passion for the game, and unwavering honesty defined his larger-than-life personality. As a dedicated UCLA alumnus and broadcaster, he enjoyed engaging with our players, listening to their stories, and sharing his wisdom. As a coach, I found him to be honest, kind, and always well-intentioned. I will miss him greatly. It’s hard to imagine a season at Pauley Pavilion without him.”

After his NBA career, Walton became a prominent broadcaster, famous for his energetic commentary and frequent praise for the Grateful Dead. He enthusiastically supported his alma mater and the Pac-12 conference, often calling it the “Conference of Champions.” He expressed regret over UCLA and USC, key teams, leaving the Pac-12 for better financial prospects. The Pac-12 held its last event, the conference baseball tournament championship game, over the weekend.

Walton was surrounded by his family when he died. He is survived by his wife, Lori; his sons, Adam, Nate, Luke and Chris; and extended family.


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