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Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton dies at 71

Lauren Johnson   

Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton dies at 71
  • Basketball legend Bill Walton died after a battle with cancer, the NBA announced May 27.
  • Walton, 71, won two NCAA titles and two NBA championships.

Basketball legend Bill Walton has died after a prolonged battle with cancer, the National Basketball Association announced on May 27.

Walton, 71, played center and won two National Collegiate Athletic Association titles while playing with UCLA. He later won two NBA championships after joining the league — one with the Portland Trail Blazers and one with the Boston Celtics. Walton was the NBA's MVP for the 1977 to 1978 season. Walton was named one of the sport's Top 50 players by the NBA in 1997. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993, followed by the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

"Bill Walton was truly one of a kind," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "As a Hall of Fame player, he redefined the center position. His unique all-around skills made him a dominant force at UCLA and led to an NBA regular-season and Finals MVP, two NBA championships, and a spot on the NBA's 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams."

After retiring from basketball, he started his career in sports broadcasting in 1990. As a basketball broadcaster and analyst, he covered college and NBA games for broadcasters, including ESPN, CBS, and NBC, as well as the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers.

His sports commentary was fun and colorful. Once, he gobbled down a cupcake still topped with a lit candle on live TV. He would often go on air wearing Grateful Dead t-shirts and other colorful attire.

In a statement, Martin Jarmond, UCLA's Alice and Nahum Lainer Family Director of Athletics, said that Walton "represented so many of the ideals that our university holds dear."

"He loved being back on campus at UCLA, calling games in Pauley Pavilion, and being around our teams,"Jarmond said. "We offer our deepest sympathy to his family, and we take solace in knowing that Bill made each day his masterpiece."

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