Bill Walton was part of the golden age of the USC-UCLA sports rivalry

When two major universities have a sports rivalry — not in one sport, but many — we don’t generally refer to sports such as water polo or beach volleyball. USC and UCLA have been giants in those and other Olympic sports, but when we generally refer to a great rivalry across multiple sports, we refer to the “bread and butter” sports, the ones at the center of America’s sports culture. Those sports are football first, basketball second, and baseball third. If we were to identify the golden age of the USC-UCLA rivalry in those three sports, we can say that Bill Walton was part of it.

If there is a golden age in the history of USC versus UCLA in the three main American team sports, it would be from the mid-1960s through the late 1970s.

From the 1965 through 1976 college football seasons, either USC or UCLA made the Rose Bowl in every year but twice (Stanford in the 1970 and 1971 seasons). The schools played their best and most important football game in 1967.

From 1966 through 1975, UCLA won eight college basketball national titles and USC fielded two of its best-ever teams in 1971 and 1974. The 1975 team was good, too. From 1968 through 1974, USC baseball won six College World Series titles.

Whether you begin in 1965 or 1966 or 1968, the broader period of time encompassing anywhere from eight to 14 years from the mid-1960s through the mid-to-late 1970s was the height of the USC-UCLA sports rivalry. Bill Walton, with his dominance from 1972 through 1974 at UCLA, stood squarely in the middle of it.

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“The relationship between UCLA Bruins’ legendary coach John Wooden and legendary player Bill Walton was truly one-of-a-kind. When Bill Walton passed away on Memorial Day, memories came surfacing across the internet with some unbelievable stories about Walton.

“The connection and relationship between Walton and Wooden is one we might not ever see again at any level between a player and a coach. After the passing, plenty of clips popped up on social media with quips and quotes and memories about the pair of legends.”

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire