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NBA & NCAAM – Bill Walton – L E’s Stories Special – “The World’s Tallest Hippie ‘Deadhead’ Basketball Player Was Also The Best Collegiate Center of All Time – Tribute To The Life and Career of Bill Walton

When it came to playing sports as a kid growing up in West Texas, this soon to be sportsphile was a huge fan of the sport of basketball…..while we played all sports all the time…..the truth be known, there was rarely a time when you didn’t see a basketball in my hands…..albeit my brothers (2) and I, along with our Pops played all sports…..for my Dad was really the original sportsphile (just un-named back then).  Yep, depending on what season the sports world was in at any particular moment, that the sport that we were playing…..which included basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, football, hunting and fishing, bowling et al…..but for my money, it was basketball….. and when it came to basketball, it was college basketball, especially the NCAA Tournament at the end of each season.  When you are a budding sportsphile, you always have teams and players that “you hate to love, and love to hate”…..and the Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden, and his UCLA Bruins was the team that I hated to love and loved to hate…..as the Bruins won 10 NCAA National Titles from 1964 to 1976…..while losing ONLY in 1966 to Texas Western…..and in 1974 to North Carolina State.  There was also the UCLA player during that dynasty run that I hated to love and loved to hate….. who was the biggest hippie college basketball star to ever grace the basketball court, Bill Walton…..for “Big Red” was the only player who was equal too or better than Lew Alcindor throughout his college career…..who then became the all time NBA scoring leader…..whose record stood until LeBron James broke it during the 2023 season.   It is with a joyful anticipation that I am posting this story about the life and legend of Bill Walton…..even though I rooted for ANYONE and ANY TEAM other than UCLA and Bill Walton…..albeit the truth be known…..I loved to watch him play.  In fact, this 1st video regarding the life and career of Bill Walton, provides evidence of my belief that had Bill Walton not had such bad feet and ankles, he could very well be in nearly all conversations regarding who was basketball’s G.O.A.T…..for the video takes a “What If?” approach to Bill Walton and his career…..as we hope you enjoy this story about the largest hippie “Deadhead” basketball player of all time…..and the life and legend of Bill Walton.                                                                                                                         

 

 

NBA & NCAAM – Documentary – 2022 – A Clayton Crowley Production Special – Bill Walton: The NBA’s Greatest What If?”

 

 

William Theodore Walton III (born November 5, 1952) is an American television sportscaster and former professional basketball player…..who played college basketball for coach John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins….. while winning three consecutive national college player of the year awards from 1972 through 1974…..plus, leading UCLA to NCAA championships in 1972 and 1973…..in addition to leading the Bruins to an 88-game winning streak.  After being selected as the 1st overall pick in the 1974 NBA draft, Walton led the Portland Trail Blazers to an NBA championship in 1977 (their only title in the history of the team)…..when also earning the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award that season.  He won another NBA title in 1986 as a member of the Boston Celtics.  Walton was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993…..and was named to the NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams.                                                                                    

 

 

NBA & NCAAM – Documentary – 2016 – ESPN Classic Special – “Bill Walton:  SportsCentury ”                                                     

 

Walton’s early career in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was very successful…..while winning the 1978 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP)….. along with an NBA championship with the Portland Trail Blazers…..for which he was also named Finals MVP.  Albeit, his professional career began to be significantly suffer as a result of multiple foot injuries requiring numerous surgeries.  The truth be known, Bill Walton was a giant sized human being at 7’4″…..and the feet of giants aren’t meant to withstand a long basketball career of playing hundreds / thousands of games on the hardwood floors …..while running up and down the courts every season.  Walton sat out the 1978–79 season…..and was then signed by the San Diego Clippers (now Los Angeles Clippers)…..for whom he played four injury-plagued seasons…..but his career was rehabilitated during two seasons with the Boston Celtics at the end of his career…..when he played as a backup center behind Robert Parish…..albeit  Walton earned the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in the 1985–86 season …..while winning his 2nd NBA championship that same season.

 

 

 

NBA & NCAAM – Mini Documentary – 2023 – A Groovy Ballers Production Special – “Bill Walton: UCLA to the NBA – The Story Of The Deadhead Red”                                                                                                                   

 

After retiring from the NBA, Walton overcame a lifetime of stuttering while speaking…..and embarked on a 2nd career as a sportscaster…..while working both as a studio analyst and color commentator with stints for several networks and teams…..when he earned an Emmy Award in 1991 for his work behind the mic.  Walton is a noted fan of the Grateful Dead…..while being elected to the “Deadhead Hall of Fame”…..and often mentions them in his broadcasts…..plus, he has hosted several podcasts and satellite radio programs featuring the music of the Grateful Dead.

 

 

NBA & Music – 2023 – An Art Varkington Production Special – “Grateful Dead: Interviews + Bill Walton ~ The Redhead’s Been A Deadhead”                                                                                                                                               

 

Walton was born and raised in La Mesa, California, the son of Gloria Anne (née Hickey) and William Theodore “Ted” Walton…..who was raised with siblings Bruce, Cathy and Andy…..as the Waltons’ La Mesa home was a hillside home on Colorado Avenue, just below Lake Murray.  His listed adult playing height was 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)…..but it has been documented that Walton is actually 7 ft 3 in (2.18 m) or more…..but doesn’t like being categorized as a seven-footer.  Walton’s father Ted was a music teacher and social worker…..while his mother Gloria, was a librarian.  His parents had interests in art, literature, politics, and music.  Walton took music lessons, and although his parents were not sports-oriented, Walton followed in the footsteps of his older brother Bruce …..who had gravitated toward sports.  When the Walton children were in junior high and high school, their father formed an informal family band…..in which Bruce and Bill played trombone or baritone…..with Andy playing the saxophone and Cathy played the flute.  “Bill and I couldn’t quit fast enough”, Bruce said.

 

 

NBA & NCAAM – 2020 – A theScore Production Special – “Your Dad’s NOT High! Bill Walton was REALLY That Good – The Story Behind Bill Walton”

 

Walton first played organized basketball under Frank “Rocky” Graciano….. who coached at Walton’s Catholic elementary school.  Coach Graciano “made it [basketball] fun and really emphasized the joy of playing the team game”, said Walton. “I was a skinny, scrawny guy. I stuttered horrendously, couldn’t speak at all. I was a very shy, reserved player and a very shy, reserved person. I found a safe place in life in basketball.”

 

 

 NBA & NCAAM & Comedy – 2008 – Live on ESPN’s The Mike & Mike Show – Frank Caliendo Impersonating Bill Walton                                                                                                                                                                

 

Walton played high school basketball at Helix High School in La Mesa alongside his brother Bruce…..who was one year older at 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) and 250 pounds (113 kg). Bruce was a star football player as well. If Bill Walton was getting physical treatment in a basketball game, Bruce returned the treatment.  “When those opposing teams would try to get physical with me, Bruce would do whatever it took to protect me”, Walton recalled. “He went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys. Bruce and I are the only brother combination in history to ever play in the Super Bowl and to win the NBA championship.”  “When they would begin to rough up Bill, I would look at coach and he would give me a nod”, recalled Bruce. “Yes”, said Gloria Walton, “then when the referee wasn’t looking, Bruce would give the player an elbow and let him know that the skinny guy was his kid brother.”

 

 

 

 NBA – 1974 To 1987 – An NBA Vault Production Special – “NBA Legends And Players Explain How Special Bill Walton Was”

 

 

Walton’s struggle with injury and pain began while at Helix High School, where he broke an ankle, a leg, several bones in his feet, and underwent knee surgery…..which is the life story of all giants playing sports.  Before his sophomore season, Walton underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage on his left knee…..and because of his recovery from the knee surgery, Walton played most of his sophomore year on the junior varsity team.  Coach Gordon Nash promoted him to the varsity team at the end of the season….. but, he played in only six games and did not start any of them.  During his sophomore year of high school (age 15–16), Walton grew from 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) to 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)……when Coach Nash played Bill and Bruce Walton together in the paint…..as Bill was taller, but frail as he had not filled out his growing frame at this point…..plus, Bill was unable to play a complete game without resting. “He would simply get too tired”, recalled Nash. “When that happened, he’d tell me and I’d take him out.”

 

 

 

NBA – 2020 – An Andy Hoops Production Special – “From MVP to Sixth Man: The Tragedy of Bill Walton”

 

 

While Walton was in high school in 1967, the NBA expansion San Diego Rockets came to town.  The Rockets had no set practice facility and would often play pick-up games at Helix High School.  Rocket players learned that to get into the Helix gym they could call the teenage Walton, who had his own gym key. Walton recalled Elvin Hayes calling and telling his mother, “Tell Billy, Big E is calling and we need him to open the gym tonight. I said, ‘Mom, that’s Big E! Give me the phone!’ I was never so embarrassed in my life. Elvin and I are still close friends. All of those guys all [sic] still my friends to this very day.”  “We had the best gym in San Diego and all the Rockets players wanted to go there”, Walton reflected. “They had some great teams with Elvin Hayes and Calvin Murphy and future head coaches and broadcasters such as Pat Riley, Rick Adelman, Rudy Tomjanovich, Jim Barnett, and Stu Lantz. All these guys treated me—little Billy—like I was part of the team. They couldn’t have been nicer, and I became their friend.”                                           

 

 

NBA & Comedy – 2023 – Saturday Night Live Weekend Update with Michael Che Special – “Bill Walton: Discuss LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Playoff Chances”                                                                                 

 

Walton overcame all obstacles and led Helix to 49 consecutive victories in his two varsity seasons…..when Helix won the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Championship in both 1969 and 1970…..while finishing 29–2 in 1968–69…..and 33–0 in 1969–70.  Walton had entered high school at a height of about 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) tall and graduated at about 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) tall.  Walton averaged 29 points and 25 rebounds in 1970…..as Helix finished 33–0 in his senior season.  As a senior in 1969–70, Walton made 384 of 490 shot attempts for a 78.3% shooting percentage…..which is still the all-time national record.   In addition, Walton’s 825 rebounds that season ranks # 3 all-time…..and his 25.0 rebounds per game in a season ranks # 7 all-time.  “It was a dream come true to be a part of a special team”, Walton said. “Helix is where it all began. It was a humbling honor and privilege to be on the same squad as true legends Monroe Nash, Wilbur Strong, Phil Edwards, and Bruce Menser. I’m the luckiest guy on earth.”  In 1970, Walton was featured in “Faces in the Crowd” in the January 26 issue of Sports Illustrated, his first national media recognition.  Hall of Fame Coach Denny Crum was an assistant coach at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) under John Wooden…..and was sent to watch Walton play in 1968 as a high school junior…..as coach Crum was at 1st dubious when hearing of Walton…..but went to scout him anyway…..“I came back and told Coach Wooden that this Walton kid was the best high school player I’d ever seen”, Crum recalled.  Beginning in elementary school and extending through high school, Walton had loyally followed UCLA’s basketball team on the radio…..when he was recruited by many colleges…..but quickly accepted UCLA’s scholarship offer to play basketball for the Bruins and Coach Wooden…..and the Wizard of Westwood would become a lifetime mentor to Bill Walton…..when Walton said of Coach Wooden: “I was John Wooden’s easiest recruit. I became his worst nightmare. I drove the poor guy to an early grave when he was 99. I had three different periods of my life in my relationship with him: (1) when I was a high school student and he was recruiting me; (2) when I played for him when I was 17 to 21; (3) and then 36 years of being his friend. I had no idea what we had at UCLA. I thought everybody had the same thing: great parents, great schools, great neighborhoods, great colleges, great coaches. Then I joined the NBA. And I realized immediately that I had just absolutely blown this whole deal with John Wooden. And so I spent the rest of my life, first of all, trying to make it up to him; and second of all, no longer [bringing] consternation into his life.”

 

 

NCAAM – 1971 To 1974 – A UCLA Bruins Basketball Vault Special – “Bill Walton: College Basketball’s Greatest Player”                                                                                                                                                                    

 

Walton played for UCLA under Coach Wooden from 1971 to 1974…..while his older brother Bruce played football at UCLA, after enrolling a year ahead of Bill.  Bill Walton led the Bruins to two consecutive 30–0 seasons…..and the NCAA men’s basketball record 88-game winning streak. The UCLA streak contributed to a personal winning streak that lasted almost five years…..in which Walton’s high school, UCLA freshman (freshmen were ineligible for the varsity at that time) and UCLA varsity teams did not lose a game from the middle of his junior year of high school to the middle of his senior year in college.  With Walton, UCLA won the NCAA Championship in 1972 over Florida State…..and again in 1973 with an 87–66 win over Memphis State…..in which Walton made 21 of 22 field-goal attempts in scoring 44 points.

 

 

 

NCAAM – 2019 – A Bill Walton Production Special – “John Wooden: A Master Teacher – Learn About Life From John Wooden”

 

Prior to joining the varsity team, Walton (18.1 ppg, 68.6% field goal accuracy), along with Greg Lee (17.9 ppg) and Keith Wilkes (20.0 ppg), was a member of the 20–0 1970–71 UCLA freshman team…..as freshmen were prohibited by the NCAA from playing varsity at the time.  The varsity UCLA team, led by seniors Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, and Steve Patterson defeated Villanova in the 1971 NCAA Championship Game for UCLA’s 5th consecutive NCAA title.  After Walton initially refused to cut his hair as an incoming freshman, Coach Wooden told Walton “we’ll miss you.”…..when Deadhead Walton rode his bike to a nearby barber.                                                        

 

 

NCAAM – 2010 – An 805Bruin Production Special – “Bill Walton: Coach John Wooden Makes Me Get a Haircut”                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

The 1971–72 UCLA basketball team had a record of 30–0…..while winning its games by an average margin of more than 30 points…..when averaging 94.6 points to opponents’ 64.3.  With Walton playing alongside Henry Bibby, Larry Farmer, Wilkes, Lee, and Swen Nater, UCLA finished 14–0 in the Pac 8 Conference.

 

 

 

NCAAM – 1971 To 1974 – An 805Bruin Production Special – “Bill Walton: College Basketball’s Greatest Players”

 

 

In the 25-team 1972 NCAA tournament, UCLA defeated Weber State 90–58 …..then they defeated Long Beach State and coach Jerry Tarkanian in the Western Regional final 73–57 to reach the Final Four.  Playing 20 minutes due to foul trouble, Walton had four points and 12 rebounds in the victory over Weber State, taking only one shot. He had 19 points and 11 rebounds against Long Beach State.

 

 

NBA & Awards Show – 1993 – Live Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Special – “Bill Walton: Acceptance Speech”                                                                                                                                             

 

In the 1972 Final Four, Walton had 33 points and 21 rebounds, on 11 of 13 shooting and 11 of 12 free-throws, against Louisville in the NCAA semifinal …..as UCLA won 96–77…..then, in the NCAA championship game, Bill Walton had 24 points and 20 rebounds in the Bruins’ 81–76 victory over Florida State…..as Big Red was named the 1972 NCAA basketball tournament Most Outstanding Player.                                                                                                           

 

 

NCAAM – Final Four – 1972 – ESPN NCAAM Final Four With Bob Ley Special – “1972 Final Four Highlight Film” – Part 1 of 3

 

 


 
NCAAM – Final Four – 1972 – ESPN NCAAM Final Four With Bob Ley Special – “1972 Final Four Highlight Film” – Part 2 of 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

NCAAM – Final Four – 1972 – ESPN NCAAM Final Four With Bob Ley Special – “1972 Final Four Highlight Film” – Part 3 of 3                                                                                                                                                                           

 

Overall, in 30 games in 1971–72, Walton averaged 21.1 points and 15.5 rebounds…..while shooting 64.0% from the field…..when he was named 1st-team All-American with Jim Chones of Marquette, Bo Lamar of the Louisiana-Lafayette, Ed Ratleff of Long Beach State and Tom Riker of South Carolina.  Bill Walton’s UCLA Bruins again finished 30–0 overall…..and 14–0 in the Pac-8 conference in 1972–73…..as the Bruins averaged winning by over 20 points…..while averaging 81.3 points to their opponents’ 60.1 points per game. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

NCAAM – – 1972 – NCAAM National Championship Finals (Entire Game) – Memphis State Tigers Vs. UCLA Bruins – Featuring C Bill Walton Setting Finals Scoring Record of 44 Pts on 21 of 22 Shots From the Field             

 

In the 25-team 1973 NCAA tournament, UCLA defeated Arizona State 98–81 …..and then San Francisco in the West Regional Final 54–39 to reach the Final Four…..when Walton had 28 points and 14 rebounds against Arizona State, on 13 of 18 shooting…..then he scored 9 points and had 14 rebounds against San Francisco…..while taking only 7 shots.

 

 

NCAAM – National Championship Finals – 1973 – A KNBC-TV4 Production With Jim Simpson – Memphis State Tigers Vs UCLA Bruins – The Two NCAAM Records Bill Walton Set In This Game Are Still Standing July 2023 (Most Pts Scored in a Finals + Highest Scoring % in a Finals)                                                                   

 

In the 1973 Final Four, the Bruins won the national semifinal 70–59 over Indiana and Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight…..as Walton had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists against Indiana.

 

 

NCAAM – Season Highlights – 1973 – An 805Bruin Production Special – “A Profile of the 1973 UCLA Men’s Basketball Team:  UCLA Bruins Basketball 1973”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

In the 1973 NCAA title game against Memphis State, Walton had arguably the best individual performance in an NCAA championship game…..which was the 1st Finals held on Monday night…..when at the St. Louis Arena on March 26, 1973, Bill Walton scored 44 points on near-perfect 21 of 22 shooting…..while adding 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block, to lead his Bruins to a 7th straight collegiate title…..with an 87–66 victory over Memphis State…..when the Tigers were led by head coach Gene Bartow…..who replaced Wooden at UCLA three years later…..with standout Tigers players Larry Kenon and Larry Finch.  Bill Walton set the record for most points in an NCAA championship game…..which still stands in 2023…..and was awarded the tournament’s most outstanding player trophy.

 

 

 

NCAAM – NCAAM Finals Highlights – 1973 – A Larry Legend Production Special – “Bill Walton Greatest Games: 44 Points vs Memphis State”                                                                                                                                   

 

Walton was hurt and left the game for the final time, with UCLA leading, 75–62 and just under three minutes remaining. Playing with four personal fouls, Walton fell hard to the floor on a play and injured his left knee and ankle. He then limped off the floor, receiving an ovation from the 19,301 fans.  “I don’t think anything ever meant as much to me as playing UCLA and one of John Wooden’s best teams for the national championship”, Bartow said in 1993. “We were able to go right through the press.”   At halftime, the game was tied 39–39. Bartow added, “I felt very good at halftime, very good. But to win, we also felt we had to control Walton. We couldn’t let him dominate the game. Obviously, we didn’t do a good job of that. Bill Walton probably had one of the best games anybody ever had in the history of college basketball.”

 

 

 

NCAAM – 2010 – An 805 Bruin Production Special – 1974 – “Bill Walton: Clutch Player”

 

 

“Coach Wooden looked at me and said, ‘Walton, I used to think you were a good player until you missed that one shot,'” Walton said.

 

 

 

NCAAM – 2018 – A John Wooden’s Wisdom Production Special – Interview With Coach John Wooden: Did Bill Walton Ever Challenge You On Your Rules?”

 

 

NCAAM – 2018 – A John Wooden’s Wisdom Production Special – Interview With Coach John Wooden: Did Bill Walton Ever Challenge You On Your Rules?”                                                                                                                                                                                 

 

NBA & Keynote Speaker – 2015 – Live on Stage Special – “Bill Walton: Performing John Wooden’s PreGame Speech”

 

 

NBA & Keynote Speaker – 2020 – Live on Stage Special – “Bill Walton: Wooden’s Leadership Maxims”                                                                    

 

Overall in 1972–73, Walton averaged 20.4 points and 16.9 rebounds in 30 games on 65.0% shooting…..as UCLA again finished 30–0 (14–0 in the Pac-8 conference).  Walton was a consensus All-American alongside Ernie DiGregorio of Providence, Ed Ratleff of Long Beach State, David Thompson of North Carolina State, and Kermit Washington of American. 

                                      

 

NCAAM – 1972 – A 1BigBucks1 Production Special – “1972 Final Four Highlight Film” (Part 1 of 3) – In UCLA’s Undefeated Season (30 – 0)

 

 

NCAAM – 1972 – A 1BigBucks1 Production Special – “1972 Final Four Highlight Film” (Part 2 of 3) – In UCLA’s Undefeated Season (30 – 0)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

 

NCAAM – 1972 – A 1BigBucks1 Production Special – “1972 Final Four Highlight Film” (Part 3 of 3) – In UCLA’s Undefeated Season (30 – 0)                                                                                                                                    

 

Walton’s political personality was alive in his collegiate years on the UCLA campus. “One of the saddest days for Coach Wooden was the day he came down and had to bail me out of jail after I got arrested in the anti-Vietnam (War) protest. He said, ‘Bill, I know you feel very strongly about this, but I just don’t think that you getting arrested and taking part in this demonstration is what it’s all about”, recalled Walton.  “I had no problem with him during the season”, Wooden said of Walton’s college days. “Off the floor I worried. I worried when he was thrown in jail with the group that took over the administration building, I worried when he stopped traffic on Wilshire Boulevard, and when he interrupted classes giving his views on the Vietnam War.”

 

 

 

NCAAM & NBA & News – 2023 – A KCAL News Production Special – “Bill Walton: His Long, Strange Trip As The Luckiest Man In The World”                                                                                                                                    

 

In Walton’s senior year, UCLA’s 88-game winning streak ended with a 71–70 loss at Notre Dame on January 19, 1974…..when Walton played wearing a back brace…..as he had suffered a major back injury in a fall against Washington State the week before…..when he was undercut by a Washington State player and broke two bones in his spine…..which remained damaged until corrective surgery in 2009.  He missed three games…..but, he made 12 of his first 13 shots and the Bruins led Notre Dame by 17 points at halftime. UCLA was leading 70–59 with 3½ minutes remaining…..albeit, they were outscored 12–0…..while missing six consecutive shots with four turnovers.  As was his belief, Wooden did not call time-outs late in games…..and stuck with the strategy…..when the Irish made six shots in a row…..and won on Dwight Clay’s shot with 29 seconds left…..as Notre Dame prevailed 71–70. Walton, who missed a 12-foot shot off an inbounds pass to win the game as time expired, finished with 24 points and 9 rebounds.  He said of his efforts that day, “A complete failure on all levels, particularly as a human being. A disgrace to the game of basketball, a disgrace to sport.”  A week later, the Bruins beat the Fighting Irish 94–75 at home.  Later in the season, UCLA dropped consecutive games in consecutive days at Oregon and Oregon State, nicknamed “the Lost Weekend”.  “There were so many problems”, Walton said of the losses…..“Injuries [he missed games with a bad back]. Team chemistry. It was just a nightmare.”  UCLA finished 26–4 and 12–2 in the Pac 8 Conference, with Walton playing alongside Keith Wilkes, David Myers, and Marques Johnson.                                                                                                           

 

 

NCAAM – January 19, 1974 – NCAAM Game of the Week – UCLA Bruins Vs Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish – As Irish Score Last 12 Points To End UCLA’s 88 Straight Wins Streak With a 1 Point Win

 

 

In the 25 team 1974 NCAA tournament, UCLA defeated Dayton 111–100….. when Walton had 27 points and had 19 rebounds.  UCLA next defeated San Francisco 83–60 in the Western Regional Final to reach the Final Four…..after Walton tallied 17 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists against San Francisco.

 

 

 

 NCAAM – 1974 – A Video Clip From The UCLA Dynasty Film Special – “UCLA Dynasty: Bill Walton Talks About 1974 Disappointment”

 

 

NCAAM & NBA & News – 2023 – A KSDK News 5 Sports Plus Production Special – “Bill Walton On His Basketball Legacy: ‘I’m the luckiest guy in the world'”

 

 

NCAAM – 1974 – National Championship Semi-Finals Special – “Notre Dame Vs UCLA: ND Stops the UCLA 88 Game Winning Streak”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

In the 1974 Final Four, UCLA’s record 7consecutive national titles was broken…..when North Carolina State defeated the Bruins 80–77 in double overtime in the NCAA semi-finals.  Walton played 50 minutes and scored 29 points, adding 18 rebounds and 4 assists in the loss. This UCLA–North Carolina State game was ranked # 13 on USA Todays list of the greatest NCAA tournament games of all time.  Walton called the game the most disappointing outcome of his entire basketball career…..as UCLA had a 5-point lead late in regulation and a 7-point lead in the 2nd overtime, before NC State with David Thompson rallied to win, 80–77.  “David Thompson’s a great champion. He is a wonderful person and a very special human being”, Walton said. “He was really fun to play against. He was a dynamic big moment guy, and I just wish I could have risen to the occasion. That failure has plagued me, and will, it is a stigma on my soul, and there’s no way I can get rid of it.”  Walton said of the loss, “We could have, we should have won them all, and we didn’t get it done. And when you’re in that position, it’s the worst feeling in the world. That’s the timelessness of pain and suffering; the agonizing, the reflection and the endless questioning of yourself. When you’re right there and it’s there for you and the whole world is watching, and it’s recorded as history that can never be changed, that is a terribly heavy burden.”  UCLA had to come back and play in the NCAA 3rd place game, in which they eventually defeated Kansas. “I didn’t want to play and I told Coach Wooden that. We had a bitter argument over that, and I lost that argument, too”, said Walton, who took only three shots as UCLA had a 78–61 win.  He played 20 minutes in his last game for UCLA and Coach Wooden. “Twenty minutes too much”, he said.                                                                              

 

 

NCAAM – The Final Four – 1974 – Men’s Basketball Semi-Finals (Entire Game) – UCLA Bruins Vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack

 

 

NCAAM & NBA & Talk Shows – 2022 – The Universe Galaxy NBA Production Special – “The Bill Simmons Podcast Presents: Bill Walton on Coach John Wooden & Explains Who Is The # 1 NBA Player That He Has Ever Played Against”

 

Overall, as a senior, Walton averaged 19.3 points, 14.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists…..while being named 1st Team All-American alongside Marvin Barnes of Providence, John Shumate of Notre Dame, David Thompson of North Carolina State, and teammate Wilkes of UCLA.  In his 87 career games at UCLA, Walton shot 65.1% from the field, averaging 20.3 points, 15.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. UCLA was 86–4 in Walton’s three seasons.

 

 


 
NCAAM – 1974 – An 805Bruin Production Special – “Bill Walton and UCLA’s Walton Gang”
 

 

Walton was the 1973 recipient of the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States…..while receiving the USBWA College Player of the Year…..and the Naismith College Player of the Year as the top college basketball player in 1972, 1973 and 1974.  He earned Academic All-American honors in 1972, 1973 and 1974.  Many college basketball historians rate Walton as the greatest who ever played at the college level.                              

 

 

 NCAAM & Awards – 1972 Thru 1974 – A Naismith Awards Production Special – “Bill Walton: On Being A Three Time Citizen Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year”

 

 

NCAAM & Awards – 1972 Thru 1974 – A Naismith Awards Production Interview Special“Bill Walton Interview: On Being Selected as the Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year”                                              

 

Walton left UCLA to begin a new life in professional basketball…..while keeping a lifetime friendship with Coach Wooden. “Coach Wooden never talked about winning and losing, but rather about the effort to win. He rarely talked about basketball, but generally about life. He never talked about strategy, statistics or plays, but rather about people and character. Coach Wooden never tired of telling us that once you become a good person, then you have a chance of becoming a good basketball player.”

 

 

NCAAM & NBA & Talk Shows – 2022 – The Rich Eisen Show Production Special – “Phone Guest Bill Walton: On The John Wooden Vs Coach K Debate of Who Is The G.O.A.T Comparisons”                                                                                                                                                                         

 

Walton was drafted by the American Basketball Association’s Dallas Chaparrals in the 1973 ABA draft as an underclassman in an attempt to lure him from UCLA.  In the locker room after the 1973 Championship game, Coach Wooden introduced Walton to representatives of the ABA, who hoped to convince him to turn pro. “Of which I had no interest in doing”, Walton said.  In 1974, the ABA’s San Diego Conquistadors tried to persuade Walton to sign with them, after drafting him in the 1974 ABA draft.  San Diego had also signed Wilt Chamberlain as a player-coach as further incentive…..but Walton was not swayed.  Walton was the # 1 overall pick by the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers in the 1974 NBA draft…..so, Walton signed with the Trail Blazers.

 

 

 

 NBA – 1974 – The NBA Draft # 1 Pick Special – “Portland Trailblazers: Pick UCLA’s Bill Walton # 1 in the 1974 Draft”

 

 

Walton’s 1st two seasons in Portland were marred by chronic foot injuries…. which were early signs of the giant’s feet and ankles breaking down…..when in addition, during his 1st two years, Walton badly sprained an ankle, broke his left wrist twice, dislocated two toes, dislocated two fingers, broke a toe and injured his leg in a jeep accident.  As a rookie in 1974–75, Walton averaged a double-double 12.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.7 blocks in 35 games.  The Trail Blazers with Geoff Petrie, Sidney Wicks, and LaRue Martin finished 38–44 under player/coach Lenny Wilkens.                         

 

 

NBA – 1974 To 1979 – A Basketball Universe Production Special – “Bill Walton and the Portland Trail Blazers: The Dynasty That Never Was”                                                                                                                              

 

In 1975–76, Walton averaged 16.1 points, 13.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.6 blocks in 51 games as Portland, with rookies Bob Gross and Lionel Hollins, finished 37–45.

 

 

 NBA & Broadcasting – 2007 – An OnParr Production Special – “Bill Walton: On Hotlist Remembering Pistol Pete Maravich” – A Special Epitaph                                                                                                                                   

 

In 1976–77 season Walton played in 65 games…..while being spurred by new head coach Jack Ramsay…..when Bid Red and a newly acquired ABA draftee in Maurice Lucas helped the Trail Blazers become the Cinderella team of the NBA.  In a pre-season meeting with his new coach, Walton had advised Ramsay, “Coach, don’t assume we know anything.”…..as Walton led the NBA in both rebounds per game (14.4) and blocked shots per game (3.2)…..while being selected to the NBA All-Star Game…..but did not participate due to an injury.  Walton was named to the NBA’s 1st All-Defensive Team and the All-NBA 2nd Team for his regular-season accomplishments…..when he averaged 18.6 points, 14.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.2 blocks…..while leading Portland to an overall 49–33 record.

 

 


 
NBA – 1977 – NBA Finals Game 6 Highlights – Philadelphia 76’ers Vs Portland Trail Blazers – Featuring Blazers C Bill Walton – Leading Portland To Their Only NBA Title in Franchise History 

 

 

NBA & News – 2019 – CBS KOIN 6 Sports News Special – “Where We Live: The 1977 Blazers Brawl” – While Remembering Maurice Lucas                                                                                                                                                                                                      

 

In the 1977 postseason, Walton led # 3 seed Portland to series victories over the Chicago Bulls with Artis Gilmore (2–1) and the Denver Nuggets with Dan Issel (4–2)…..while averaging 17.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 4.3 blocks in the 1st round series against the Bulls in the NBA Playoffs…..then in the Nuggets series Walton averaged 17.5 points, 13.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 3.0 blocks…..which was followed by a 4–0 series sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1977 Western Conference finals…..when Walton averaged 19.3 points, 14.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 2.3 blocks playing against fellow UCLA alum Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.                                                  

 

 

NBA – 1977 – Western Conference Finals Game 1 Highlights – Portland Trail Blazers Vs Los Angeles Lakers – Featuring Bill Walton Vs Kareem Abdule Jabbar                                                                                                                

 

Portland matched up in the 1977 NBA Finals against the favored Philadelphia 76ers…..when after losing the first two games, the Blazers won four straight to win the NBA championship…..as Walton scored 20 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in the clinching Game 6 victory…..and was named the Finals’ Most Valuable Player with averages of 18.5 points, 19.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.0 steals, and 3.7 blocks…..which prompted Philadelphia 76ers coach Gene Shue to comment after the series: “Bill Walton is the best player for a big man who ever played the game of basketball.”

 

 

 NBA – 1977 – NBA Playoffs Highlights Special – “Prime Bill Walton: Providing Images Of G.O.A.T.”                       

 

The following season, the 1977–78 Trail Blazers won 50 of their first 60 games, as Walton averaged 18.9 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.5 blocks in 58 games…..then Walton then suffered a broken foot…..which ended his regular season.  During this time, he befriended the controversial writer Jack Scott…..who wrote and published a book about him in 1978. Walton nonetheless won the 1978 NBA Most Valuable Player award…..and the Sporting News NBA MVP as well.  Walton played in his only NBA All-Star Game in 1978…..and was named to both the NBA’s 1st All-Defensive Team and the All-NBA 1st Team.  Portland finished the 1978 regular season with a 58–24 record….and Walton returned for the 1978 NBA playoffs…..but he was injured and lost for the remainder of the playoffs in the 2nd game of the 1st round series against the Seattle SuperSonics…..when after having received a painkilling injection to play, X-rays taken after Game 2 revealed the navicular bone below Walton’s left ankle was broken…..and Walton was out.  Portland lost the series to Seattle in 6 games…..and Bill Walton would never play for the Trail Blazers again.

 

 

NBA – 1977 – A LakersDynasty42 Production Special – “Bill Walton: 1977 Finals Highlights of 20 Pts + 23 Rebs + 8 Asst + 9 Blks”

 

During the off-season, Walton demanded to be traded, citing unethical and incompetent treatment of his and other players’ injuries by the Blazers’ front office…..and when he did not get his wish, he sat out the entire 1979 season in protest.  Walton eventually signed with the San Diego Clippers when he became a free agent in 1979.  In five seasons with Portland, Walton played in 209 games, averaging a double-double of 17.1 points and 13.5 rebounds, with 4.4 assists and 2.6 blocks…..and the Trail Blazers have never had a center to come even close to posting the numbers that Bill Walton did during his Portland career.

 

 

NBA – Portland Trailblazers – 2017 – The Oregonian Oregon Live Production Special – “Bill Walton:  On What 1977 NBA Championship Meant To The State of Oregon”                                                                                   

 

On May 13, 1979, Walton signed as a veteran free agent with the San Diego Clippers…..when the Portland Trail Blazers received Kevin Kunnert, Kermit Washington and a 1980 1st-round draft pick (Mike Gminski was later selected) as compensation ordered by the NBA.  Walton reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $7 million contract…..however, due to injuries, Walton spent more time on the disabled list than on the court with his hometown team.  In his 1st season with San Diego, Walton played 14 games for the Clippers in the 1979–80 season.  Walton re-fractured the navicular bone in the 4th 1979 exhibition game…..and subsequently missed all of the 1980–81 and 1981–82 seasons…..while undergoing several surgeries on his injured foot. Walton ignored doctors who said he would never play again and underwent surgery to restructure his left foot in 1981…..when his high arch, which made the foot bones susceptible to breaking, was lowered to relieve the stress on the bones.  Following extensive rehabilitation, which included biking and sand volleyball, Walton’s foot began to improve…..and after playing only 14 games from 1979 to 1982, he played 33 games in 1982–83 under doctor’s orders to play about one game per week…..then he played in 55 games in 1983–84, and a then-career-high 67 in 1984–85, by which time the Clippers had relocated to Los Angeles.

 

 

NBA & News – 2019 – A FOX Sports West and Prime Ticket Production Special – “LA Clippers 50th Anniversary: A look back at Bill Walton”

 

 

NBA – 1979 – A CBS 8 San Diego Sports News Special – “La Mesa native Bill Walton Signs 7 Year Contract With the San Diego Clippers”                                                                                                                                           

 

NBA – 1982 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights – San Diego Clippers Vs. Portland Trailblazers – Featuring Clippers C Bill Walton With 25 Pts / 8 Rebs / 7 Blks                                                                                                           

 

NBA – 1984 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights – San Diego Clippers Vs. Boston Celtics – Featuring Clippers C Bill Walton With 19 Pts / 12 Rebs                                                                                                                            

 

“When you fail in your hometown, that’s as bad as it gets, and I love my hometown”, said Walton of his tenure in San Diego. “I wish we had NBA basketball here, and we don’t because of me. It’s my greatest failure as a professional in my entire life, I could not get the job done in my hometown. It is a stain and stigma on my soul that is indelible. I’ll never be able to wash that off, and I carry it with me forever.”

 

 

NBA & Broadcasters – 2021 – An MboneHD Production Special – “The Best of Bill Walton’s Funniest Moments With Broadcast Partner Dave Pasch”                                                                                                                 

 

On Clippers owner Donald Sterling, Walton commented, “The checks bounced higher than the basketballs when Donald Sterling took over. The basketball was awful, and the business side was immoral, dishonest, corrupt, and illegal. Other than that, it was all fine.”  In 169 games with the Clippers, Walton averaged 11.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 2.3 blocks, shooting 53.2%.  The Clippers never finished near .500 or made the playoffs in his tenure with the franchise.  As his feet became more durable, the Clippers had won 30 and 31 games in his final two seasons.  At age 32, Walton wished to move to a winning franchise and reached out to teams after the season ended in 1985.  After the 1984–85 campaign, Walton called on two of the league’s premier teams, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.  After several players on the Celtics said they liked the idea of having Walton as a teammate backing up Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, Red Auerbach made the deal happen.  One anecdote that particularly illustrates Walton’s decision to choose the Celtics over the Lakers involves Larry Bird….. who happened to be in Auerbach’s office when Walton called…..when Bird said that if Walton felt healthy enough to play that it was good enough for him…..as opposed to Lakers GM Jerry West…..who was hedging his interest in Walton pending a doctor’s report.  On September 6, 1985, Walton was traded by the Los Angeles Clippers to the Boston Celtics for Cedric Maxwell and a 1986 1st round draft pick (Arvydas Sabonis was later selected).

 

 

NBA – 1986 – A Nutspittle Production Special – “1986 Boston Celtics:  Best Passing Team Ever”                                      

 

Walton described doctors looking at his X-rays at the hospital after he arrived in Boston: “And then Red, he bursts in through the double doors … and he’s smoking his cigar in the hospital, and he walks in and says, ‘Who are you guys and what are you doing with my player?’ And they’re saying, ‘Red, come here. Look at this. Look at his feet. Look at his face. We can’t pass this guy.’ And Red says, ‘Shut up. I’m in charge here.’ And Red pushes his way through all the doctors, comes over. I’m lying on the table there in the doctors examining room. Red looks down at me. He says, ‘Walton, can you play?’ I looked up at him with the sad, soft eyes of a young man who just wanted one more chance. One more chance to be part of something special, to be part of the team, to be with the guys one more time. And I looked up at him, and I said, ‘Red, I think I can. I think I can, Red.’ And Red, through the smoke, with a big, cherubic grin on his face, looked at the doctors, looked at me, and he said, ‘He’s fine. He passes. Let’s go. We’ve got a game.’ And we were able to go out and win a championship. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Thank you Red Auerbach. Thank you Larry Bird. Thank you Boston Celtics. Thank you people of New England. Thank you Celtic nation. Wow. What a dream come true.”

 

 

NBA – Documentary – 1986 – A Boston Celtics Production Special – “Banner Year: Assembling The Team” – with PF Kevin McHale – Part 1

 

 

NBA – Documentary – 1986 – A Boston Celtics Production Special – “Banner Year:  Ball Movement” – With SG Rick Carlisle – Part 2                                                                                                                                                                

 

NBA – Documentary – 1986 – A Boston Celtics Production Special – “Banner Year:  Larry Bird’s Greatness” – With PG Danny Ainge + C Bill Walton – Part 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

 

NBA – Documentary – 1986 – A Boston Celtics Production Special – “Banner Year:  The Legend of Bill Walton” – with Center Robert Parrish – Part 4

 

 

NBA – Documentary – 1986 – A Boston Celtics Production Special – “Banner Year:  The Original Big 3″ – with Center Robert Parrish + PF Kevin McHale + SF Larry Bird – Part 5

 

 

NBA – Documentary – 1986 – A Boston Celtics Production Special – “Banner Year: The Bench” – with Center Gregg Kite + PF Kevin McHale + PG Sam Vincent + SM Larry Bird + PG Danny Ainge – Part 6                                   

 

In his 1st time in a Celtics uniform in the Boston Garden, Walton received one-minute standing ovation from the Boston home crowd walking onto the court for his 1st exhibition game in 1985.

 

 

NBA – 1986 – A Larry Legend Production Special – “The 1986 Boston Celtics: Larry Bird + Bill Walton Basketball Magic”                                                                                                                                                                   

 

Walton played a career-high 80 games for Coach KC Jones and the Celtics during the 1985–86 season…..while averaging 7.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 blocks in 19 minutes…..while finishing with a career-high 56.2 field goal percentage…..and providing a reliable backup to Kevin McHale and Robert Parish…..and playing alongside Larry Bird, Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson…..as Walton received the 1986 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award en route to the NBA championship…..when he became the only player to have won an NBA Finals MVP, Sixth Man Award, and regular season MVP. 

                           

 

NBA – Video Documentary – 2016 – The Book of Basketball Production Special – “1986 Boston Celtics Tribute: The Beautiful Game” – Exceptional Video Highlights                                                                                        

 

The 1986 NBA playoffs were Walton’s 1st taste of the postseason in nearly a decade, at age 33.  Backing up McHale and Parish, he averaged 6.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 2.0 blocks in 19 minutes as the Celtics’ had a 3–0 sweep in the Eastern Conference 1st round over the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan (43.7 point average in the series).

 

 

NBA & Interview – 2020 – A Boston Celtics Vault Special – Bill Walton:  Discusses Larry Bird’s Greatest Game, Red Auerbach, the Celtics Crowd Et Al”                                                                                                                

 

In the Celtics’ 4–1 series win over the Atlanta Hawks with Dominique Wilkins in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, Walton averaged 8.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 13 minutes…..then in the Eastern Conference Finals 4–0 sweep against the Milwaukee Bucks, Walton averaged 8.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 18 minutes.

 

 

NBA – 2023 – An NBA History & Storytellers on CLNS Production Special – “Bill Walton:  1986 NBA 6th Man of the Year”

 

In the 1986 NBA Finals, the Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets with “Twin Towers” Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson 4–2 to win the NBA Championship…..as Walton averaged 8.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 2.2 blocks in 19 minutes, in helping the Celtics win the championship.

 

 

NBA – 1985-1986 – A Boston Celtics Vault Special – “Sweet Sixteen: The 1985-1986 Boston Celtics”

 

“I knew we had something going when we got Walton”, Larry Bird said on Walton and the 1985–86 Celtics. “It was all a matter of if he could stay healthy. We already had a pretty good team, and I think adding him and (Jerry) Sichting really helped us. Robert Parish accepting Bill Walton for who he is and what kind of player he was, I thought that was major. That’s the best team I’ve ever been on, no question about that. I mean, we were good from top to bottom.”

 

NBA – 1985-1986 – A Boston Celtics Video Yearbook Special – “1986 Celtics: The Season of the Shooting Stars”

 

Celtics center Robert Parrish said of Walton coming to the team…..“It wasn’t important to me because I had no say in the personnel decisions, but what I was impressed with was Bill Walton’s character…..as he thought enough of me to make sure I was comfortable with him being on the team. That’s why I have the utmost respect for Bill Walton…..and that’s the main reason why he was my inductee into the Hall of Fame.  Bill Walton is my main man, for that reason.” 

                                                                                                                                   

 

NBA – 1986 – Game of the Week Highlights – Boston Celtics Vs Los Angeles Lakers – Featuring Celts C Bill Walton With 11 Pts + 8 Rebs + 7 Blks In 16 Minutes on Court                                                                                        

 

Walton was injured again in the 1986–87 regular season, but returned in time for the 1987 playoffs. He only played in ten games during the season. Walton spent the 1987–88 season on the Celtics’ injured list.  He attempted a comeback in February 1990…..but injuries intervened and he retired as a player.  Overall, Walton played 90 total games for the Celtics, shooting 55.1% and averaging 7.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 blocks in 18 minutes.

 

 

NBA – 1974 To 1988 – A Back Rim Basketball Production Special – “Bill Walton: Big Red’s Career Highlights”                                                                                                                                                                               

 

At age 17, just out of high school, in the summer of 1970, Walton was selected to represent USA Basketball at the 1970 FIBA World Championship. The USA team, under coach Hal Fisher, failed to win a medal in the tournament…..while coming in a disappointing 5th place.  By far the youngest player on the roster, Walton played minimally in five games, averaging 2.6 points.  Walton was selected to the 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball team….but declined to participate.  Some saw it as a political statement given Walton’s  opposition to the Vietnam War…..but the most likely reason for his decision was his bad experience at the 1970 world championships.  In a 2004 interview with ESPN, Walton stated that “for the 1st time in my life, I was exposed to negative coaching and the berating of players and the foul language and the threatening of people who didn’t perform.”

 

 

NBA & Interview – 2012 – NBA Celtics Special – “Larry Bird Jokes About Bill Walton’s Injuries”

 

In the men’s basketball final, the United States controversially lost to the Soviet Union 50–51…..while finishing in 2nd place.  According to Russian sports historian Robert Edelman, “when [the Russians] saw who was and wasn’t on the U.S. team, that’s when they started feeling like they’d actually have a chance. They followed American basketball closely and they knew that no Walton was going to be a big deal.”  1972 US team’s forward James Forbes told ESPN as part of a SportsCentury documentary, “If [Walton] plays, all of this becomes academic.”

 

 

NBA – 2012 – An NBA TV Production Special – “NBA Vault: 1977 Portland Trail Blazers” – With C Bill Walton as League & Playoffs MVP

 

Coach Jack Ramsay, in 2010, called Walton the best Portland Trail Blazer, “hands down no question”…..while saying “Walton could do everything, he had great timing, complete vision of the floor, had excellent fundamentals and was a great passer, both in outlet passes and in the half court. He loved playing basketball, just loved it, practices, games … especially away games. He loved to win on the opponent’s court. And he had a great head, a very dedicated team player.”  Of Walton’s injuries, Ramsay added, “And that was very frustrating to both of us. To not be able to play was a crushing blow to him. And to me it was frustrating because I finally had a great team and a great player and it was all coming apart.”

 

 

NBA + Public Speaking – 2016 – A Bill Walton – D’Amelio Network Production Special – “Bill Walton: Sports Injuries Take Toll + Surgery Saves Career”

 

“I’m here to try and make amends for the mistakes and errors of the past”, Walton, said to the press in returning to Portland in 2009. “I regret that I wasn’t a better person. A better player. I regret that I got hurt. I regret the circumstances in which I left the Portland Trail Blazers family. I just wish I could do a lot of things over, but I can’t. So I’m here to apologize, to try and make amends, and to try and start over and make it better.”

 

 

NBA & Interviews – 2021 – A Bill Walton – D’Amelio Network Production Special – “Bill Walton: Greatest Teammate + Ultimate Opportunity”

 

Said Walton reflecting on his career: “I loved basketball. And I was going to go until I couldn’t go anymore. I had no desire to ever stop playing. I’ve never met anybody who stopped playing voluntarily. I ground my body up. I’ve had 37 (38 now) orthopedic operations. I ground my feet up into dust. I’ve got a new knee. I’ve got a new spine. I’m the lucky one, in that I never thought going through all of it that I would be healthy at the end. And I almost wasn’t. But I’m all better now.  …..but then I would want to play another one. And another one. But I will take one.”

 

 

NCAAM – Tribute – 2019 – A Bill Walton – D’Amelio Network Production Special – “Bill Walton: Learn About Life From John Wooden, a Master Teacher”

 

Overall, Walton played 468 games in his NBA career…..while averaging a career double-double of 13.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, with 3.4 assists and 2.2 blocked shots in averaging 28 minutes of play per game…..while shooting  52.1% from the floor for his career.  Walton’s injuries and surgeries limited his career…..and counting his 1978–1979 year-long holdout, Walton played in 44% of the regular season games in his 13-year career.

 

 

NBA – 2020 – A Thinking Basketball Production Special – “Bill Walton: On His Insane Passing & Defense”              

 

In 2021, to commemorate the NBA’s 75th Anniversary The Athletic ranked their top 75 players of all time…..and named Walton as the 64th greatest player in NBA history.

 

 

NBA – 2022 – A Basketball Action Production Special – “NBA 75th Anniversary Team: Bill Walton”“I Never Coached A Better Player….I Never Coached A Better Competitor…..I Never Coached A Better Person Than Bill Walton” by Coach John Wooden                                                                                                                         

 

Walton overcame a stuttering problem at age 28 with the help of Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Glickman, after a lengthy conversation between the two at an event.  Walton said about his speech issues and subsequent career, “I’m a stutterer. I never spoke to anybody. I lived most of my life by myself. But as soon as I got on the court I was fine. But in life, being so self conscious, red hair, big nose, freckles and goofy, nerdy looking face and can’t talk at all. I was incredibly shy and never said a word. Then, when I was 28 I learned how to speak. It’s become my greatest accomplishment of my life and everybody else’s biggest nightmare.”

 

 

NCAAM & NCAAF – 2022 – Live on College Gameday – Bill Walton Joins the Gameday Crew and Delivers His Game Winning Picks

 

 

After his retirement as a player, Walton has become a successful and controversial basketball color commentator…..who has worked for CBS in 1990…..NCAA on CBS in 1991…..NBC from 1990–2002…..the Los Angeles Clippers from 1990–2002…..and ABC/ESPN from 2002–2009.  After 19 years working in broadcasting, he left ESPN in November 2009, as the result of back problems …..which dated back to an injury he suffered in college at UCLA.   Following surgery on his back, Walton returned to broadcasting as a part-time commentator for the Sacramento Kings for 2010–11 and 2011–12…..then in July 2012, ESPN and the Pac-12 Network announced that Walton would return to full-time broadcasting as a game analyst for Pac-12 conference basketball coverage.  Walton frequently works alongside Dave Pasch while calling Pac-12 games….. as his commentary has been noted for his frequent use of catchphrases and hyperbole.  Walton typically was paired with Steve “Snapper” Jones for national NBA games because he and Jones had a point-counterpoint banter during games.   While broadcasting a game between the Oregon Ducks and USC Trojans, Walton talked about a speech Bob Dylan gave at MusiCares, and ESPN had prepared graphics about Dylan’s career highlights.  While broadcasting a Washington–Oregon January 2019 game with Dave Pasch, Walton mentioned he had appeared in the motion picture  Ghostbusters…..which was filmed in 1984 and Pasch questioned Walton about his claim throughout the game as to the specifics of his appearance and character, but Walton refused to provide more details. Research validated Walton’s claim.

 

 

NCAAM – 2015 – Live PAC 8 Game of the Week Special – “Bill Walton: Gives Gifts To Broadcast Partners Jay Bilas + Dave Pasch” – When Dave Pasch Admits He Doesn’t Believe In Evolution

 

 

NCAAM – 2016 – Live PAC 8 Game of the Week Special – “Bill Walton: Playing the Glockenspiel” – When Dave Pasch Gets Pissed”                                                                                                                                                       

 

Walton’s 2003 TV series Bill Walton’s Long Strange Trip aired on ESPN with Walton as subject and star.  Walton has his own satellite radio show, One More Saturday Night (named after the Grateful Dead song of the same name…..which was heard on Sirius Radio’s Jam On and XM Radio’s Grateful Dead channel.  In 2001, Walton received an Emmy Award for “Best Live Sports Television Broadcast”…..and in 2018 was the recipient of the CoSIDA Dick Enberg  Award. 

 

 

NBA & Talk Shows – 2917 – Live on ESPN’s Mike Smith & Jemele Hill Show – “Bill Walton & Dick Vitale: Take Over The Interview”

 

Walton resides in his hometown of San Diego with his wife Lori (m. 1991). He and his first wife, Susie, had four sons: Adam, Nathan, Luke, and Chris.  His son Luke became an NBA player…..while winning both the 2009 and 2010 NBA Finals with the Lakers…..which made Walton and son, Luke, the 1st NBA father-son pair to have both won multiple NBA championships.  Luke was the head coach of the Lakers from 2016–2019, after two years as an assistant for the Golden State Warriors.  In April 2019, Luke Walton was named head coach of the Sacramento Kings.  Luke was named after Walton’s friend and former teammate Maurice Lucas. “Maurice was so important in my life and in little Luke’s life”, Walton said. “Whenever there was a big moment for little Luke, big Luke would show up unannounced to make sure it all turned out right.”  Son, Chris Walton, played for San Diego State…..and is a real estate executive…..while brother Nate Walton played basketball at Princeton…..and entered the corporate world and earned his MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.  FYI, Bill Walton had attended Stanford Law School for two years while with the Clippers…..but never graduated.  Nate was on the ballot for the 2003 California Recall election, receiving 1,697 votes.  He has been highly successful in the oil business.  Bill Walton’s  brother Adam Walton played at Louisiana State University, Pomona College and the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California…..and is currently is a college assistant coach at San Diego Mesa College…..while Bill Walton’s other brother, Bruce Walton, played in the National Football League with the Dallas Cowboys from 1973 to 1975…..as they were basketball teammates in high school…..when Bill followed Bruce in attending UCLA.  Bruce played in Super Bowl X, making Bill and Bruce the only brothers to play in the Super Bowl and NBA Finals.  Walton’s sister Cathy was an outstanding youth swimmer and played some basketball at the University of California.

 

 

NBA – 1985 – Live At The Boston Celtics 1985 Christmas Party – “Bill Walton: His Wife And Four Boys Photo Shoot”

 

Walton’s ankle problems became so severe that he had both his ankles surgically fused…..when his saga of injury and failed rehabs was connected to the use of painkillers by the doctor who was assigned to his case…..albeit  Walton has said repeatedly in his broadcasts that he is just as much to blame for taking the medication as the doctor was for giving it to him.  In a June 8, 2010, interview on The Dan Patrick Show, Walton admitted to contemplating suicide for a time due to the constant pain resulting from injuries sustained during his NBA career.  Walton is known as a vegetarian and a meditation practitioner.

 

 

 NBA & NCAAM & Talk Shows – 2017 – Live on the Dan Patrick Show – “Bill Walton: Chats on the Arizona Desert in the Early Morning + the NCAA Final Four About To Begin The Next Day”                                                

 

Walton maintained a close lifetime friendship with Coach John Wooden, visiting him often. “Coach Wooden is the most influential person in my life outside of my mom and dad, but when we played for him, he was older than our parents, and we thought our parents were the oldest people on earth”, Walton said. “So the things he taught us made no sense to us. We thought he was nuts, but when you’re hot and when you’re on top and it’s all happening, you never think. We were so young and we had always won. So we had no real idea how fragile everything was. Everything that Coach Wooden told us eventually came true.”  On Walton’s desk sits a message to him from Coach Wooden: “To Bill Walton, it’s the things you learn after you know it all that count. John Wooden.”

 

 

NCAAM – 1970 – A Foggy Melson Sports Production Special – “John Wooden:  On Recruiting Bill Walton”               

 

In 2009, Walton underwent an eight-hour spinal-fusion surgery. Two titanium rods and four four-inch bolts were inserted in his back. He could not walk to the hospital. After the successful surgery he was hospitalized for a week, and could not move freely for a year.

 

 

NBA & Music – 2015 – Podcast Special – “Bill Walton: Talks Jerry Garcia” – Part 1

 

 


 
NBA & Music – 2015 – Podcast Special – “Bill Walton: Talks Jerry Garcia” – Part 2                                                       

 

NBA & Music – 2015 – Podcast Special – “Bill Walton: Talks Jerry Garcia” – Part 3

 

 

NBA & Music – 2015 – Podcast Special – “Bill Walton: Talks Jerry Garcia” – Part 4

 

 


 
NBA & Music – 2015 – Podcast Special – “Bill Walton: Talks Jerry Garcia” – Part 5

 

 NBA & Music – 2015 – Podcast Special – “Bill Walton: Talks Jerry Garcia” – Part 6

 

 

NBA & Music – 2015 – Podcast Special – “Bill Walton: Talks Jerry Garcia” – Part 7                                                                            

 

Walton is a fan of the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band, Neil Young, Phish, and Bob Dylan…..but is particularly attached to the Grateful Dead….. whose concerts he started attending in 1967…..while he was still in high school.  He attended more than 850 Grateful Dead concerts…..which included traveling with the band to Egypt for its famous 1978 performance before the Pyramids….while joining the band on drums…..plus he quotes Grateful Dead  lyrics in TV and radio interviews.  To fellow Deadheads, Walton is fondly known as “Grateful Red” and the “Big Red Deadhead” and “World’s Tallest Deadhead”.  In the video for “Touch of Grey”, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart is wearing a Celtics jacket given to him by Walton.  In 2001, Walton was inducted into The Grateful Dead Hall of Honor.

 

 

NBA & Music – 2015 – Podcast Special – “Bill Walton: Talks Jerry Garcia” – Part 8                                                               

 


 
NBA & Music – 2015 – Podcast Special – “Bill Walton: Talks Jerry Garcia” – Part 9                                                                   

 

NBA & Music – 2015 – Podcast Special – “Bill Walton: Talks Jerry Garcia” – Part 10                                                       

 

NBA & Music – 2015 – Podcast Special – “Bill Walton: Talks Jerry Garcia” – Part 11                                                           

 

NBA & Music – 2023 – An Art Varkington Production Special – “Grateful Dead ~ Interviews + Bill Walton ~ The Redhead’s Been A Deadhead”

 

Walton also considers himself a fan and friend of the late writer Ken Kesey….. whom he considered to be a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950’s and the hippies of the 1960’s.  In 2015, he made a visit to the Ken Kesey Collection while on a stop at the University of Oregon.

 

 

NBA & Music & Interview – 1985 – Live at Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium in Oakland California After A Grateful Dead Concert Special – “Bill Walton: Interviews Ken Kesey”

 

His book memoir, Back from the Dead: Searching for the Sound, Shining the Light and Throwing It Down, was released by Simon and Schuster in March 2016. It remained on The New York Times bestseller list for two weeks in April 2016.

 

 

NBA & Talk Shows – 2016 – Live on the Dan Patrick Show Special – “Bill Walton:  Talks About New Book Back From The Dead”

 

Walton, who has a service dog, wrote the foreword to the 2015 book Unconditional Honor: Wounded Warriors and their Dogs by author Cathy Scott.  Walton has cameo appearances in the films 88 and 1, Celtic Pride, Little Nicky and Semi-Pro…..and appeared as Sven the Wise in the 2011 Capital One Visigoth SportsNet commercials….plus, he is also mentioned by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1980 comedy movie Airplane….when Kareem says “Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanierup and down the court for 48 minutes!”  Walton also appeared in the 1984 motion picture Ghostbusters…..and his voice to video games NBA 2K5 and NBA Shootout 2004.  He also appeared in the premiere of the 3rd season in the reality TV show Shark Tank on January 20, 2012…..when he helped to sell the “Clean Bottle”, a water bottle that unscrews at both ends for easier cleaning.

 

 

NBA & TV Shows – 2014 – Live on The Shark Tank – Bill Walton For The Clean Bottle

 

Bill Walton’s NBA awards and accomplishments as follows:

  • 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)

  • 50 Greatest Players in NBA History

  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team

 

 

NBA – 1977 – An NBA TV Production Special – “1977 NBA Finals Look Back: Philadelphia 76’ers Vs Portland Trailblazers”

 

Bill Walton’s Collegiate awards and accomplishments as follows:

  • 2× NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player (1972, 1973)

  • 2× NCAA champion (19721973)

  • 3× Naismith College Player of the Year (1972–1974)

  • 3× USBWA Player of the Year (1972–1974)

  • 3× Adolph Rupp Trophy (1972–1974)

  • 2× Helms Foundation College Player of the Year (1972, 1973)

  • 3× Sporting News College Player of the Year (1972–1974)

  • 2× AP College Player of the Year (1972, 1973)

  • 3× Consensus first-team All-American (1972–1974)

  • 3× First-team All-Pac-8 (1972–1974)

 

NCAAM – 1972 – Men’s Final Four Highlights Film – Semi-Finals Game – Louisville Cardinals Vs UCLA Bruins – Featuring Coach Denny Crum Vs Coach John Wooden

 

NCAAM – 1972 – Men’s Final Four Highlights Film – Men’s National Championship Finals – Florida State Seminoles Vs UCLA Bruins – Featuring Bill Walton as MVP

 

Bill Walton’s NBA Honors as follows:

  • Named to NBA 50th Anniversary Team

  • No. 32 retired by Portland Trail Blazers

  • No. 32 retired by UCLA in 1990.

  • Walton was the 1973 recipient of the James E. Sullivan Award.

  • Walton was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 1984.

  • In 1990, Walton was inducted by the San Diego Hall of Champions into the Breitbard Hall of Fame.

  • Walton was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

  • In 1993, Walton was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

  • In 1994, Walton was voted into the Verizon Academic All-American Hall of Fame.

  • Walton was inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

  • Walton was the inaugural inductee into the Grateful Dead Hall of Honor in 2001.

  • In 2001, Walton was the recipient of an Emmy Award for “Best Live Sports Television Broadcast”.

  • Walton received the NBA Retired Players Association Humanitarian Award in 2002.

  • In 2006, Walton was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

  • A bronze statue of Walton was unveiled at Ski Beach Park in San Diego, California’s Mission Bay in 2016.

  • Walton was inducted into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame in 2017.

  • In 2018, Walton received the CoSIDA Dick Enberg Award.

  • The gymnasium at the Boys and Girls Club in Santee, California, near San Diego, was named in his honor in 2018. The Bill Walton Gymnasium is located inside the 26,000-square-foot Brady Family Clubhouse.                               

 


 
NBA & NCAAM – 2023 – A Sports360AZ Production Special – Steve James, Producer of Coming New Bill Walton Documentary ‘The Luckiest Guy in the World’ Talks About The Film Which Will Air on ESPN

 

Rehashing the life and legend of Bill Walton has brought about a tsunami of great memories regarding my interest and involvement in basketball during the the Golden Age of Basketball from 1960 to 1990…..for this was the time when the greatest centers of all time held court in the paint of the college and NBA hardwoods…..with Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Willis Reed, Bob Lanier, Kareem Abdule Jabbar, Shaquile O’Neal, Akeem Olajuwon and the one and only “white boy” Bill Walton…..as these guys completely “ruled the roost” of all the major college and NBA round ball games in America during that 30 year span…..and I was fortunate enough to be a huge fan of the entire basketball spectrum during this Golden Age of BasketballBill Walton, in his prime and injury free, was absolutely unstoppable…..albeit even with nagging injuries, he was a force and a game-changer…while his basketball IQ was off the charts and as good as anyone’s…..and simply put, he is one of the greatest…..as those who think otherwise never saw him play.  I mean, this man played only 468 games out of a possible 1066 (including 2 full missed seasons)…..and was still a 1st ballot Hall of Famer…..as well as being voted one of the 50 greatest players of all time.  That alone should tell you how great of a basketball player he was…..which is evidenced by his junior, senior years in high school when he went 64-3…..while in his senior year he averaged 29 points and 25 rebounds per game…..as he still holds the all time high school field goal percentage record at 79%.  From high school to UCLA he went on a 142 game win streak…..with 86–4 at UCLA…..when he was responsible for the majority of wins in UCLA’s record 88 game win streak…..while being a three time winner of NCAA Player of the Year…..along with being the best NBA center that never was.  Bill Walton played the best game of any college player in an NCAA championship game final…..while scoring on 21 of 22 field goals for 44 points against Memphis State in the 1973 NCAAM Championship Finals…..when he also had 4 “dunks” called off because of the goaltending rule in the day…..otherwise, he would have had 52 points with 25 for 26 shooting from the floor.  Since, I have never seen a better game from a college player in a game, let alone an NCAA title game…..cuz Big Red came through best when it counted most…..plus, Walton is one knowledgeable guy in the sport of basketball…..with a fantastic memory…..who was able to recite like he was reading from a teleprompter…..albeit you can tell he enjoys life by his enthusiasm and extremely positive attitude….which rubs off a little bit on dang near every person that his life touches…..as he tells you all the little stories that you never heard or were never reported in the sports edition of newspaper or sports magazines …..cuz for my tastes, I like stuff like that…..plus, he tells it like it is without offending anyone…..for Bill Walton is a treasure of joy and excitement!  What a legendary basketball player and human being…..for Bill reminds us that there is so much more to life than our jobs…..and that kindness will always prevail.  He faced so much adversity throughout his entire basketball life….. and yet he is a still such a beacon of positivity.  It’s hard not to cry watching the videos in this post….while learning and knowing that Bill Walton is such a thoughtful guy, with a great family…..while being adorned by many accolades…..so, can you imagine the frustration of trying to battle through injuries with all of that ability wanting to get out!?!  For John Wooden to say what he did about Walton being the best all around basketball player he had ever had must have given Walton chills…..for this was a validation that  Walton had already earned many times over…..but Wooden saying so on record, given all the great players he cultivated, had to matter big time.  He is among a few who revolutionized the game for the big man.  Simply put,  Bill Walton was this transcendental …..while stats aren’t the whole story with Walton…..for you had to see him those rare times when he was at his best…..when his teams won…..and his duel’s with Kareem we’re epic…. as was his return to form in the ’85-’86 season.  And when you consider his incredible success as a basketball broadcaster….that just sends the level of his being a legend into the stratosphere…..cuz Bill Walton is and will always be one of my all-time favorite basketball color announcer…..cuz he was not afraid to be critical….“Terrible Pass’…..”Atrocious Shot”…..for the truth be known, there has never been anyone quite like Deadhead Red…..and albeit his body let him down, he has continued to be such a great ambassador for the game of basketball…..and how could you not just love listening to him…..when he’s just Bill always laying it all out there, every game….which is how he played the game.  Bill Walton is truly a “Living Legend”…..which is a term that gets tossed around, but “Big Red” personifies it…..and not just as a ballplayer …..but rather more so as a man.  He’s been everywhere, seen everything, and is truly a National Treasure.                                                                                        

                                                                                               

 

NBA – Documentary – 2018 – ESPN Classic Production Special – “Vintage NBA: Bill Walton”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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