Watch CBS News

Celtics, NBA legends remember the late, great Bill Walton

Will Celtics close out Pacers on Monday night and advance to the NBA Finals?
Will Celtics close out Pacers on Monday night and advance to the NBA Finals? 07:49

BOSTON -- Tributes for Bill Walton began shortly after news broke Monday that NBA Hall of Famer had died at the age of 71. Walton, who won a pair of NCAA Championships at UCLA and two NBA titles during his pro career, is being remembered as a game-changing player and a fun spirit who absolutely loved the game of basketball.

Walton played only two seasons with the Celtics in Boston, but was the sixth man for the 1985-86 championship team that is considered by many to be the greatest team in NBA history. He may have been at the end of his career during his time with the Celtics, but he had a massive impact on that team off the bench. 

The Indiana Pacers honored Walton with a moment of silence at Gainbridge Fieldhouse ahead of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics on Monday night. Here's a look at all the tributes that poured in for the NBA legend throughout the day on Monday.

Celtics call Bill Walton "one of the most consequential players of his era"

Here is the statement the Celtics issued about Walton.

"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 of 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."

An emotional Wyc Grousbeck dedicated Boston's Eastern Conference Championship to Walton after the Celtics completed their sweep of the Pacers on Monday night.

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown sent out a post about Walton on X ahead of the Celtics-Pacers Game 4 on Monday night.

Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, who was teammates with Walton in Boston, spoke of Walton's ability to live life to its greatest.

Statement from Celtics ownership group on passing of Bill Walton

"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."

Trail Blazers, Clippers remember Bill Walton

After his stellar career at UCLA, which included two titles and an 88-game winning streak, Walton was the first overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1974. Injuries hampered his first three seasons in the NBA, but he led Portland to a championship in 1977, earning Finals MVP honors. He followed that up by winning NBA MVP in 1978.

After four seasons in Portland, Walton signed with his hometown San Diego Clippers (who became the L.A. Clippers in Walton's final year with the team), but injuries kept him from flourishing on the court.  

ESPN shares some of Bill Walton's best on-air moments

While one generation remembers Walton for his play on the court, another remembers him for his work as a colorful color analyst. Walton absolutely loved his job and had loads of fun talking hoop -- an other things, like his love for the Grateful Dead -- on TV.

Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, other NBA legends remember Bill Walton

Though they were never teammates, Walton and Abdul-Jabbar are synonymous with the UCLA dynasties of the 1960s and 1970s. Abdul-Jabbar sent a heartfelt tribute to his friend on X Monday afternoon.

"My very close friend, fellow Bruin and NBA rival Bill Walton died today. And the world feels so much heavier now," Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote. "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."

In a statement shared by ESPN's Tim Bontemps, Celtics legend Larry Bird called Walton "one of the greatest to ever play the game."

Other tributes for Bill Walton

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.