Reaction to the Death of Bill Walton, the Hall of Famer Who Died Monday

Reaction from the basketball world to the death Monday of Bill Walton:


“My very close friend, fellow Bruin and NBA rival Bill Walton died today. And the world feels so much heavier now. On the court, Bill was a fierce player, but off the court he wasn’t happy unless he did everything he could to make everyone around him happy. He was the best of us.” — fellow UCLA center, NBA star and Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


“Bill Walton was one of the greatest basketball players of all time — a champion at every level and the embodiment of unselfish team play. He was also a wonderful spirit full of curiosity, humor and kindness. We are poorer for his passing, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family.” — former President Barack Obama.


“Bill was a special, kind, and genuine person. I’m incredibly grateful for our close friendship, and the time we spent together on the air, out to dinner after the game, or in his teepee in his backyard. An iconic athlete and broadcaster, but more important, a legendary person who always made me smile.” — ESPN broadcaster Dave Pasch, a longtime on-air partner of Walton.


“He was a guy who did everything and there’s been a lot of talk today about how he speaks in hyperbole and stuff, but he just defiantly competed for every moment in life to be the greatest it could possibly be. That’s the best way to describe it. What an amazing man. There will never be another.” — Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, who was Walton’s teammate in Boston.

FILE – Television analyst Bill Walton stretches before the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Oregon and Colorado, Jan. 2, 2020, in Boulder, Colo. Walton, who starred for John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins before becoming a Basketball Hall of Famer and one of the biggest stars of basketball broadcasting, died Monday, May 27, 2024, the league announced on behalf of his family. He was 71. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)


“Bill was my best friend. He was an amazing person, singular, irreplaceable, giving, loving. He called himself the luckiest man in the world but it was us who were lucky — to know him. There are things you can replace. And others you cannot. Bon voyage, old friend, I love you.” — Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.


“Bill Walton marched to the beat of his own drum. I admired him as a great basketball player, but even more as a special human being who spoke up for social justice. One of one. Rest in peace, Bill.” — Hall of Famer Alex English.


“Bill Walton was a brilliant, interesting, thoughtful, humorous and genuine soul who loved life and cared about everyone he encountered. He will be dearly missed by all of us who were fortunate enough to share his friendship.” — Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball.


“Bill’s list of accomplishments on the court, as massive as they are, are only outweighed by the quality of his character and beauty of his one-of-a-kind loving spirit. In the words of our friend and hero — Thank you, Bill, for our life.” — statement from the Pac-12 Conference.


“From shooting jump shots to making incredible passes, he was one of the smartest basketball players to ever live. Bill was a great ambassador for college basketball and the NBA, and he will be sorely missed.” — Magic Johnson.


“What a privilege to know him.” — longtime Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.


“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Bill Walton, a basketball legend and an incredible human being. … You will be deeply missed.” — Pau Gasol.


“We have lost one of the greatest players and personalities that this franchise, this sport and this region have ever known. Bill Walton is synonymous with Southern California basketball: a San Diego native, a UCLA phenom, a Clipper icon. He defined the game as a player, a broadcaster and an ambassador, spreading joy for generations. Wherever he went, whatever he did, Big Red stood above the crowd.” — statement from the Los Angeles Clippers.


“Bill Walton was a legendary player, a hilarious, colorful broadcaster and most of all a wonderful person. I fell in love with basketball watching Bill dominate at UCLA in front of packed crowds at Pauley Pavilion, and I was blessed to get to know him later in our lives when he covered the NBA as an analyst on TV. …. His incredible energy, passion, love and zest for life was never turned off. Our hearts are broken today as we mourn Bill’s passing and grieve with his family.” — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.


“He left me some of the most iconic voice messages a man can receive. I saved them all. He knew the names of my wife, my kids, and always asked me how my dad was doing. And, he loved the Pac 12! Bill will be missed by many people. I am certainly one of them. He made me smile every time I saw him.” — former Arizona coach Sean Miller, now at Xavier.


“It’s a legend lost.” — Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd.


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