“The Big Redhead” became one of college basketball’s all time greats as well as a famous counterculture symbol at UCLA, but his fits of brilliance as a professional were frequently eclipsed by prolonged absences due to injuries. After retiring in the hardwood, Walton made a successful transition to broadcast.
Bill Walton – Miniature Biography (TV-14; 4:15) View a miniature biography of retired professional basketball player and American sportscaster Bill Walton, who beat injuries to become a Hall of Fame star.
A self-conscious, nervous child having a poor stutter, he still grew into a strong presence on a basketball court. He led Helix High School to back to back titles in his final couple of years, averaging 29 points and 25 rebounds as a senior. “The Big Redhead” helped keep the UCLA dynasty on the court, taking the team to back-to-back 30-0 records and NCAA tournaments as a freshman and sophomore. Walton’s performance in the 1973 title game, where he missed only one of 23 shots en route to 44 points, is regarded as among the best individual attempts in school history.
But Walton’s focus was scarcely restricted to basketball, as the erstwhile self-conscious child became a highly visible person in the counterculture arena. As a sophomore, he was detained for his part in barricading an administration building to protest the Vietnam War. Walton’s final collegiate season finished in comparative disappointment as UCLA lost in the Final Four, though he maintained his third consecutive NCAA Player of the Year Award.
Walton made an immediate impact on the professional level. At 6’11” and 235 pounds, he’d the size to be disastrous shot blocker and rebounder, and he exhibited great passing skill. Sadly, his NBA career was also instantly impacted with a number of injuries, as foot problems restricted him to only 86 of a potential 164 matches in his initial couple of years.
Walton loved the summit of his professional career through the 1976-77 season. He led the NBA with 14.4 rebounds and 3.2 blocked shots per match, and limited the year with the NBA Finals MVP Award after leading Portland to a six-match triumph over Philadelphia for the tournament. He was named league MVP the subsequent season but suffered a broken ankle throughout the playoffs, an injury that knocked him out of action for over a year.
Walton signed a huge free agent contract with all the San Diego Clippers in May 1979, but played in only 14 games that season and missed the subsequent two years with an increase of harms. He joined the Boston Celtics prior to the 1985 season and ultimately loved the kind of healthy effort that had eluded him his whole career, claiming the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award while helping the strong Celtics win the 1986 NBA Tournament.
The harms returned and restricted Walton to 10 matches in 1986-87. He called it quits after trying a comeback through the 1988 preseason, completing his career with averages of 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Seven years after, Walton saw as his son, Luke, followed in his NBA footsteps as a rookie with all the Los Angeles Lakers. Walton was made to step down from routine airing obligations after experiencing severe back malady, however he got spinal operation in 2009 and returned to his familiar spot in the booth in the year 2012.