Bill Walton, a 6’11” giant whose personality was larger than life, died from cancer at 71 on Monday, his family announced. Walton’s basketball accomplishments include winning multiple championships in college at UCLA and in the NBA, reaching the Hall of Fame, and winning six Man of the Year awards. Still, Walton will be remembered for his personality.

The former big man became a commentator in 2002. He called NBA games for ten years before switching to college basketball a decade later. Walton became known for his entertaining, unique broadcast style as he championed Pac-12 athletics late at night. Dave Pasch called play-by-play next to Walton in the broadcast booth and wrote on X yesterday, “There will never be another Bill. Love you & miss you, my friend.”

Walton became synonymous with the rock band Grateful Dead, often wearing their tie-dye t-shirts to games and discussing their music. Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, who played with Walton on the Boston Celtics, told a story about him before game four of the Eastern Conference Finals. Carlisle said that his first date with his now-wife was a Grateful Dead concert to which Walton gave him backstage tickets.

After the Celtics clinched a spot in the NBA Finals, Boston owner Wyc Grousbeck held back tears while honoring Walton after receiving the Bob Cousy trophy, saying, “We lost a great Celtic today, one of the greatest Celtics of all time. This is dedicated to Bill.”

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Walton began his career at UCLA at the height of the Bruins college basketball dynasty, winning three NCAA titles while on an 88-game winning streak. Walton became the #1 pick in the 1974, drafted to the Portland Trail Blazers. In 1977, he won the NBA Finals and MVP, leading the Blazers to their first-ever title. After sitting out the 78-79 season with a foot injury and battling health with the Los Angeles Clippers, he signed with the Celtics and became an integral part of one of the best Boston teams ever in 1985-1986, taking home his second NBA title and the sixth man of the year award. After retirement, Walton was inducted into the Professional and College Basketball Hall of Fame.

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