Who is Bill Walton? A comprehensive look at his life and legacy

Who is Bill Walton

Bill Walton was a great and popular American basketball player who was born on November 5, 1952 in La Mesa, California. He started his basketball career at Helix High School in La Mesa, California. He then played with teams such as the UCLA Bruins (1971–1974), Portland Trail Blazers (1974–1979), San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers (1979–1985), and Boston Celtics (1985–1987).

Who is Bill Walton

Throughout his career, Mr. Walton led the Bruins to two NCAA championship titles, the Portland Trail Blazers to one NBA championship in 1977, and the Boston Celtics to one title in 1986. Apart from basketball, Walton was also known as an excellent sports commentator. He has worked for various networks including ABC, ESPN, Pac-12, Fox, MSNBC, Turner Sports, KCAL and the NBA.

Short Intro

Full Name:William Theodore Walton III
Profession:American basketball player and sports commentator
Best Known For:NBA Finals MVP Award
Born:November 5, 1952, La Mesa, California, United States
Dies:May 27, 2024, San Diego, California, United States
Age:71 Years
Height:6 feet 11 inches (211 cm)
Education:University of California, Los Angeles
Marital Status:Married
Spouse:Lori Matsuoka (m. 1991–2024)
Susan Guth (m. 1979–1989)
Children:4, Luke Walton, Nathan Walton, Chris Walton, Adam Walton
Parents:William Theodore “Ted” Walton & Gloria Anne (née Hickey)
Nationality:American

Mr. Walton has received numerous awards and honors for his versatile athletic talent and unique commentary skills, including the NBA Finals MVP Award, Naismith College Player of the Year, and an Emmy Award. He won multiple state championships in his high school basketball career, set national records and became the first high school player to represent the USA national team.

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Early Life and High School Career 

Bill Walton’s full name is William Theodore Walton III. He was raised in La Mesa, California United States. His father William Theodore “Ted” Walton was a music teacher and mother Gloria Anne (née Hickey) a librarian. He was very fond of literature and music in his childhood, but his elder brother Bruce was more fond of football, due to which he also gradually started getting fond of sports.

Walton’s early education came from a Catholic elementary school, where he first played basketball under coach Frank “Rocky” Graciano. During his high school he played high school basketball at Helix High School with his brother Bruce, who was a star football player. During this period he developed into a talented player. 

Walton won the California Interscholastic Federation high school title with his team two years in a row. He became the first and only high school player to join the USA senior men’s national basketball team and play in a World Championship and Olympics while still in high school. He was named All-State and All-Conference in 1969 and All-American and Helix Athlete of the Year in 1970. Walton still holds the national all-time high school record for field goal percentage at 79% and is the #3 all-time rebounder nationally in the history of high school basketball.

College Career UCLA Bruins (1971–1974)

Bill Walton had a successful basketball career with the UCLA Bruins under coach John Wooden. He played with the team for three seasons from 1971 to 1974, winning two NCAA Championships (1972 and 1973).

Who is Bill Walton

While playing at UCLA he achieved notable success, averaging 21.1 points, 15.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game while shooting an impressive 65.1% from the field.

Walton received the USBWA College Player of the Year and Naismith College Player of the Year awards three consecutive times from 1972 to 1974. He also won the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award as the top athlete in the United States in 1973.

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NBA Draft with Portland Trail Blazers (1974-1979)

Walton was the first overall pick in the 1974 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. He played five consecutive seasons with this team and led the Blazers to the NBA Championship in 1977 and won the Finals MVP award. His highest points this season were 36 against the Atlanta Hawks. He missed the 1978–79 season due to several injuries.

San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers (1979-1985)

Walton’s career with San Diego was not very successful due to injuries. He was signed with the San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers from 1979 to 1985. During this period, he played many games but did not prove successful in winning the title for San Diego. He left the Clippers after the 1984–85 season and joined the Boston Celtics.

Boston Celtics (1985–1987)

Bill Walton played for the Boston Celtics from 1985 to 1987. He made the Boston Celtics the NBA Championship winners by defeating the Houston Rockets in his first season (1985-1986). During this period, his team lost only three out of 18 games and dominated the playoffs. 

Bill Walton’s most notable NBA achievements

  • 2x NBA champion (1977 with Portland Trail Blazers, 1986 with Boston Celtics)
  • 1977 NBA Finals MVP
  • 1978 NBA MVP (Most Valuable Player)
  • 1986 NBA Sixth Man of the Year
  • 1x NBA All-Star (1977)
  • 1x All-NBA First Team (1978)
  • 1x NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1978)
  • Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993
  • Ranks 2nd in NBA history in career field goal percentage (.540)
  • Ranks 4th in NBA history in career offensive rating (117.0)
  • Ranks 5th in NBA history in career defensive rating (100.9)

Post-Playing Career

Bill Walton announced his retirement from the NBA in 1987, citing serious foot and knee injuries. After this, in 1990, he joined the then Prime Ticket Network as a television broadcaster. Since then, he has worked for a number of networks including ABC, ESPN, Fox, MSNBC, Turner Sports, KCAL and the NBA. He also won an Emmy Award for Best Live Sports Television Broadcast in 2001. Apart from this, the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association has honored him several times as the best television analyst. In 2009, Walton was named one of the Top 50 sports broadcasters of all time by the American Sportscasters Association. Until his death, he was a broadcaster for ESPN covering Pac-12 basketball games.

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Personal Life

Bill Walton was married twice. His current wife is Lori Matsuoka, whom he married in 1991. His first marriage was to Susan Guth, with whom he had four sons: Adam Walton, Nathan Walton, Luke Walton, and Chris Walton. 

Bill Walton and Susan Guth divorced in 1989. After that he married Lori Matsuoka. Lori is a professional blogger, entrepreneur, businesswoman, and philanthropy editor for Giving Back Magazine. He was with his family till the time of his death.

Hobbies and Interests

If we talk about Bill Walton’s hobbies, he was more interested in music and literature since childhood. Because his father was a music teacher and he wanted to make him a singer. 

Cause of death

Bill Walton died on May 27, 2024 at the age of 71. He was suffering from prostate cancer. Walton also suffered from many injuries in his professional career. He had undergone a total of 38 orthopedic surgeries during his career so far.

Conclusion

Overall, Bill Walton was an admirable and professional basketball player who established a unique identity in the sports world due to his talent. He is also known for many philanthropic works. His departure from this world is a deep blow to the basketball world. He will always be remembered as the most influential player in basketball history.

FAQs

1. How many NBA championships did bill walton win?


Answer: Bill Walton won the NBA title twice in his entire career. In 1977, he won Finals MVP and led the Portland Trail Blazers to their first NBA title, and in 1986, he won his second championship with the Boston Celtics, also earning the Sixth Man of the Year award that season.

2. Which teams did Bill Walton play for in the NBA?

Answer: Portland Trail Blazers (1974–75 to 1977–78), San Diego Clippers (1979–80, 1982–83 to 1983–84), Los Angeles Clippers (1982–83 to 1983–84) and Boston Celtics (1985–86 to 1986–87)

3. What is Bill Walton’s jersey number?

Answer: Bill Walton played with number 32 jersey at UCLA, and NBA.

4. How old was Bill Walton?

Answer: 71 years

5. How tall was Bill Walton?

Answer: 6 feet 11 inches