Reaction to the death of Bill Walton, the Hall of Famer and star broadcaster who died of cancer

The basketball world is mourning the death of Hall of Famer Bill Walton who died Monday at the age of 71 after a prolonged fight with cancer, according to the NBA.

‘Truly one of a kind’: Bill Walton, key member of 1986 Celtics championship team, dies at 71

Sportscaster and former NBA player Bill Walton is seen at a first-round game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament between the Oregon State Beavers and the Arizona State Sun Devils at T-Mobile Arena on March 08, 2023, in Las Vegas. Walton, 71, died of cancer Monday, May 27, 2024.
Sportscaster and former NBA player Bill Walton is seen at a first-round game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament between the Oregon State Beavers and the Arizona State Sun Devils at T-Mobile Arena on March 08, 2023, in Las Vegas. Walton, 71, died of cancer Monday, May 27, 2024.

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

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

“Bill Walton was truly one of a kind. As a Hall of Fame player, he redefined the center position. His unique all-around skills made him a dominant force at UCLA and led to an NBA regular-season and Finals MVP, two NBA championships, and a spot on the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams,” Silver said in the statement. “Bill then translated his infectious enthusiasm and love for the game to broadcasting, where he delivered insightful and colorful commentary that entertained generations of basketball fans.”


The Boston Celtics Team

“Bill Walton was one of the most consequential players of his era. A Hall of Famer, Most Valuable Player, and two-time NBA Champion, Walton could do it all, possessing great timing, complete vision of the floor, excellent fundamentals, and was one of the greatest passing big men in league history. He derived great joy from basketball and music and deeply cherished his moments with teammates and friends. As a Celtic, Bill overcame years of debilitating injuries, regained his zest for the game, and helped guide the 1986 Boston Celtics championship with both his play and his spirit. The Boston Celtics celebrate Bill’s wonderful life and legacy, and send their deepest sympathies to the Walton family.” — Boston Celtics.


The Boston Celtics ownership group

Bill Walton was a great person: generous of spirit, always quick to compliment his teammates, a multi-time champion and of course a Hall of Famer. We are proud to call him one of the greatest Celtics who ever lived.” — The Boston Celtics ownership group.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“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.


Former President Barack Obama

“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.


ESPN broadcaster Dave Pasch

“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.


Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle

“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.


Dan Gavitt

“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.


Pac-12 Conference

“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.


Magic Johnson

“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.


Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan

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


Pau Gasol

“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.


Los Angeles Clippers

“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.


Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr

“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.


Xavier coach Sean Miller

“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.


Jason Kidd

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

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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