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Larry Bird shares heartfelt statement on Bill Walton's passing

Larry Bird shares heartfelt statement on Bill Walton's passing originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The NBA lost a legendary player and personality on Monday as Bill Walton died at 71.

Walton, a two-time NBA champion who won a title with the Boston Celtics in 1986, passed away after a prolonged battle with cancer. Many took to social media to mourn the death of one of the most beloved personalities in sports.

Celtics great Larry Bird was among those to share a statement on Walton's passing. Here's what he wrote about his former teammate, via ESPN's Tim Bontemps:

"I am very sorry about my good friend, Bill Walton. I love him as a friend and teammate. It was a thrill for me to play with my childhood idol and together we earned an NBA Championship in 1986. He is one of the greatest ever to play the game. I am sure that all of my teammates are as grateful as I am that we were able to know Bill, he was such a joy to know and he will be sorely missed. My family and I extend our sincere condolences to the Walton family."

Bird and Walton played two seasons together in 1985-86 and 1986-87. Walton earned the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award while helping Boston to the '86 title.

Another member of that '86 Celtics team, Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, reflected on Walton's legacy ahead of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

"I just wanted to mention with the passing of Walton today, how much he meant to me and so many people that I'm close to," Carlisle said. "I've been on a text message thread with our [Celtics] '86 team, and some of the memories are just beyond priceless."

Walton was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. In addition to his two NBA championships and Sixth Man award, he was a Finals MVP (1977), league MVP (1978), two-time All-Star (1977, 1978), two-time All-Defensive selection (1977, 1978), and an All-NBA First Team selection (1978).