Bill Walton, two-time NBA champion, dead at 71

Bill Walton, an NBA legend, died Monday at the age of 71, the NBA announced on behalf of his family.  

Walton starred for John Wooden's UCLA Bruins before becoming a Basketball Hall of Famer and one of the biggest stars in basketball broadcasting.

A statement said the two-time NBA champion died after a prolonged battle with cancer. 

Tributes immediately began pouring in, and the NBA was planning a moment of silence to commemorate Walton's life before Game 4 of the Boston-Indiana matchup in the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night.


FILE - Bill Walton attending a basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns at Arena on April 20, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Credit: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

"It’s a legend lost when you talk about basketball and what he brought to the media side," Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. "As an ex-player, to be able to be successful not just on the court but also on TV."

"It’s very hard to put into words what he has meant to UCLA’s program, as well as his tremendous impact on college basketball," UCLA coach Mick Cronin said Monday. "Beyond his remarkable accomplishments as a player, it’s his relentless energy, enthusiasm for the game and unwavering candor that have been the hallmarks of his larger-than-life personality.

"It’s hard to imagine a season in Pauley Pavilion without him."

RELATED: LeBron James becomes first player in NBA history to score 40,000 points

Walton, who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1993, was larger than life, on the court and off.

His NBA career — disrupted by chronic foot injuries — lasted only 468 games with Portland, then San Diego and eventually Los Angeles Clippers and Boston. He averaged 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds in those games, neither of those numbers exactly record-setting.

Still, his impact on the game was massive.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Walton "one of a kind" and said he redefined the center position over the course of his career.

He was the NBA’s MVP in the 1977-78 season, a two-time champion as a player and a member of both the NBA’s 50th anniversary and 75th anniversary teams.

Before that, a college career brought two champions at UCLA and a three-time national player of the year.

Walton’s most famous game was the 1973 NCAA title game, UCLA against Memphis, in which he shot an incredible 21 for 22 from the field and led the Bruins to another national championship.

Silver added that what he remembers most, though, about Walton was his "zest for life."

"He was a regular presence at league events – always upbeat, smiling ear to ear and looking to share his wisdom and warmth."

Walton had been calling Pac-12 games for ESPN since 2012.

This is a breaking news story. Refresh this page for updates.