Inducted Into Basketball Hall Of Fame
The 1990s also brought Walton some well-deserved recognition for his contributions to basketball. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1993. The following year he was voted into the Verizon Academic All-American Hall of Fame. In 1997 Walton was named one of the NBA's fifty best players of all time, and that same year Walton became the first male basketball player from the state of California to be inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame. For his extensive civic and professional contributions over the twenty-five years since graduating from UCLA, Walton in 1999 received the NCAA's Silver Anniversary Award. A longtime fan of the Grateful Dead, in June 2001 Walton became the inaugural inductee into the Grateful Dead Hall of Fame, a non-profit charitable organization founded by members of the band and their friends.
Interviewed by ESPN in 2002, Walton was asked who he thought was his toughest opponent on the basketball court during his years of college and professional play. He replied: "Without question, no hesitation, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the best player I ever played against. Not just the best center, he was the best player, period. He was better than Magic (Johnson), better than Larry (Bird), better than Michael (Jordan). He was my source of motivation. Everything I did was to try to beat this guy. I lived to play against him, and I played my best ball against him. No matter what I threw at him, though, it seemed like he'd score fifty against me. His left leg belongs in the Smithsonian. And it wasn't just offense. He was a great defender and rebounder, a great passer, a wonderful leader. He was phenomenal."
Walton has been married twice. With his first wife, Susan, whom he married in the 1970s, he had four sons, all of whom play basketball. All of Walton's sons are tall, at least 6 feet 7 inches, but none is as tall as their father, who stands 6 feet 11 inches. Susan and Walton were divorced in the 1990s, and Walton lives today in San Diego with his second wife, Lori. He is close to his sons and follows their basketball exploits closely. His eldest son, Adam, played ball at Louisiana State and now helps coach a high school junior varsity team in San Diego. Next in line is Nate, who played at Princeton. Luke is a standout player at the University of Arizona, while younger brother, Chris, plays for San Diego State. When asked by the Washington Post if he was disappointed that none of his sons went to UCLA, he said: "I've had nothing to do with where they go to school. Both Chris and Luke were offered scholarships by UCLA and turned down UCLA. I've always told the kids, it's your life, you have to make this decision. I'm more than happy to talk to you about it, more than happy to expose you to all the factors that go into your decision. But you're not living your life for me."
For more than four decades, Walton's life has revolved around basketball, first as a player and now for more than a decade as a broadcaster. Although chronic injury wrenched him from the basketball court prematurely, Walton has found a way to remain close to the game he loves. And, to the surprise of almost everyone, including Walton himself, he's proved as much a champion in his second career behind the microphone as he was during his days of playing college and professional ball. Jack Ramsay, his coach on the Trailblazers, told the Los Angeles Times, "if he could have stayed healthy, he probably would have been the greatest center of all time." But Walton is not one to dwell on what might have been. He lives very much in the present and of his present career as a sportscaster, Walton told ESPN, "I love my job."
- Bill Walton - Career Statistics
- Bill Walton - Ends Basketball Career With Celtics
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