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Bill Walton

Leads Ucla To Two Ncaa Championships

In his first year at UCLA, Walton played on the freshman basketball team, after which he played the next three years on the varsity team, coached by Wooden. During that period, the Bruins basketball team won eighty-six games and lost only four, winning the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship in both 1972 and 1973. Walton was named Most Valuable Player in the NCAA tournament both of those years. By the time Walton graduated from UCLA, he was widely recognized as the best college basketball player in the country, having scored 1,767 points and 1,370 rebounds in his eighty-seven college games. During his college years, Walton earned a reputation as something of a rebel with his support for left-leaning causes, long hair, and commitment to vegetarianism. He was also an outspoken critic of President Richard Nixon and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During his junior year at UCLA, Walton was arrested while participating in a protest demonstration against the Vietnam War.

In the NBA draft of 1974, Walton was the number one overall pick, tapped by the Portland Trailblazers. Walton had shown himself to be unusually prone to injury during his years of playing basketball in high school and college, and this vulnerability seemed to grow during his early years with the Trailblazers. During his first two seasons of NBA play, injuries sidelined Walton for about half of the team's scheduled games. He seemed to come into his own during the season of 1976-1977, averaging nearly nineteen points per game and leading the league in rebounding and blocked shots. In the post-season, the Trailblazers faced off against Philadelphia in the NBA Championships. Portland lost the first two games but, led by Walton, came back to win the next four to take the championship. Walton was named Most Valuable Player of the championship, having set single-game records for defensive rebounds and blocked shots.


1952 Born in La Mesa, California, on November 5
1969-70 Leads Helix High School team to California Interscholastic Federal High School title two years in a row
1970 Enrolls at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
1971 Plays on UCLA's freshman basketball team
1972-74 Plays center on UCLA varsity team coached by John Wooden
1973 Arrested while participating in a protest demonstration against the Vietnam War
1974 Drafted by Portland Trailblazers as number one overall pick in NBA draft
1974-78 Plays with Trailblazers, leading team to NBA championship in 1977
1979-85 Plays with San Diego (later Los Angeles) Clippers
1985-87 Plays with Boston Celtics, winning NBA championship in 1986
1987 Retires from professional basketball
1990 Undergoes surgery to fuse bones in left foot and ankle
1990 Joins Prime Ticket Network as analyst
1991-2001 Works as basketball commentator for major network and cable networks, including CBS, NBC, MNBC, and Turner Sports
2002 Hired by ESPN/ABC as lead analyst for NBA coverage

Awards and Accomplishments

1969-70 Named All-State and All-Conference as a high school junior and senior
1970 Named All-American and Helix (H.S.) Athlete of the Year as a senior
1972-73 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship at UCLA; Most Valuable Player in the NCAA tournament both of those years
1972-74 Led UCLA to 86-4 record during his three years of varsity play
1972-74 Sporting News College Player of the Year and winner of Naismith Award
1977 Led Portland Trailblazers to NBA Championship; named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player
1978 NBA's Most Valuable Player
1986 Helped Celtics win NBA Championship and received NBA Sixth Man Award
1992-93, 1995-96, 1998-2000 Named Best Television Analyst/Commentator by the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association
1993 Inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame
1994 Voted into the Verizon Academic All-American Hall of Fame
1997 Named as one of NBA's 50 best basketball players of all time
1997 Became first male basketball player from the state of California to be inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame
1999 Received NCAA's Silver Anniversary Award for his extensive civic and professional contributions
2001 Became inaugural inductee into the Grateful Dead Hall of Fame
2001 Emmy Award for best live sports television broadcast

Walton began the 1977-1978 season with an even more impressive performance, leading the Trailblazers to victory in fifty of their first sixty games. However, injury sidelined Walton for the final twenty-four games of the regular season. He returned to play during the NBA playoffs but was forced to drop out again when it was discovered that he had broken a bone in his left foot. Without Walton, Portland fell to the Seattle Supersonics in the playoffs. Injury forced Walton to sit out all of the 1978-1979 season. Despite his history of injury, Walton in 1979 was signed to a five-year contract with the San Diego Clippers, a franchise that in 1984 moved to Los Angeles. Injury kept Walton out of play for most of his first two seasons with the Clippers, drawing widespread criticism from San Diego fans and his teammates. During the Clippers' 1983-1984 and 1984-1985 seasons, Walton bounced back, once again playing impressively, but the Clippers never experienced the success of the Trailblazers in NBA play.

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