Nba Legend Bill Walton, Grateful Dead Devotee, Still Thriving At 71: Exclusive Interview

## NBA Legend and Grateful Dead Superfan Bill Walton Passes Away at 71

By Cynthia Littleton

May 27, 2024

Los Angeles, CA – Bill Walton, the charismatic NBA star, ESPN commentator, and ardent Grateful Dead fan, has died at the age of 71 after a courageous battle with cancer.

### A Hall of Fame Career

Walton, a towering figure standing at 6 feet 11 inches, carved out an illustrious NBA career that spanned 13 seasons with three teams. As the No. 1 overall pick in the 1974 draft, he joined the Portland Trailblazers and immediately made an impact. Walton led the Trailblazers to their first NBA championship in 1977 and was named Finals MVP that same year.

In 1979, Walton moved to the San Diego Clippers and later to the Los Angeles Clippers in 1984. He capped off his NBA career with the Boston Celtics, where he won his second championship in 1986. Walton was a versatile center known for his exceptional passing and shot-blocking abilities. He was named the NBA MVP in 1978 and was selected to the NBA All-Star team four times.

### Broadcast Career and Grateful Dead Fandom

After retiring from the NBA in 1987, Walton transitioned seamlessly into broadcasting. He joined ESPN’s roster of commentators in 2002 and quickly became a fan favorite with his infectious enthusiasm and unique insights. Walton covered NBA and college basketball games with unparalleled passion, earning him a place among the 50 greatest sportscasters of all time by the American Sportscasters Assn.

Beyond the basketball court, Walton was a dedicated and well-known fan of the Grateful Dead. His towering presence at the band’s concerts became a familiar sight to Deadheads. Walton’s love for the band’s music was evident in his often-colorful and philosophical commentary during ESPN broadcasts.

### Legacy and Impact

Bill Walton’s passing leaves an immeasurable void in the worlds of sports and music. As an NBA Hall of Famer, he redefined the center position with his exceptional skills and leadership. As an ESPN commentator, his enthusiasm and storytelling captivated generations of fans. And as a Grateful Dead superfan, he embodied the spirit of the band’s message of love, peace, and interconnectedness.

Walton’s wife, Lori, and his four sons, Adam, Nate, Luke, and Chris, survive him. Luke Walton followed his father into the NBA as a player and is now an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Adam Walton is an assistant basketball coach at San Diego Mesa College.

Bill Walton’s legacy as a basketball legend, a gifted commentator, and a loyal fan will continue to inspire and entertain generations to come. His boundless energy, infectious enthusiasm, and unwavering belief in the power of the human spirit will forever be remembered.