Basketball Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton to speak on campus Wednesday

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Wade Roush Creative Commons/Courtesy

Bill Walton is coming soon to a theater near you.

The legendary basketball player will be speaking at the Haas Pavilion Club Room on Wednesday at 1 p.m. as part of his Walton on Wheels, the Bill Walton Pac-12 Campus Tour. Students are encouraged to attend.

For the past 10 weeks, Walton, a college basketball TV analyst for ESPN and Pac-12 Networks, has been talking to students at different Pac-12 schools. After traversing more than 3,500 miles, Walton’s tour comes to a close in Berkeley, the afternoon of the Cal men’s basketball team’s 8 p.m. regular season finale against Stanford.

A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Walton two national championships at UCLA and two more during his 13-year career in the NBA. During his time in Westwood, the Big Red-Head won three College Player of the Year Awards under iconic coach John Wooden. The 7-foot-2 Walton led the Bruins to back-to-back 30-0 campaigns during the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons, part of UCLA’s unparalleled 88-game winning streak. Recently named by Sports Illustrated as the second-greatest NCAA Tournament player ever — behind former Bruin Lew Alcindor, better known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — Walton had a game for the ages in the 1973 national title game. In UCLA’s 87-66 whopping of Memphis State, Walton famously went 21-for-22 for 44 points.

The No. 1 pick in the 1974 NBA Draft, Walton was plagued by injuries his first two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers before leading the club to the 1977 NBA title. He was named Finals MVP of the series. Despite breaking his leg 60 games into the following season, Walton was still honored as the league’s Most Valuable Player. Fighting through injuries throughout his entire career, Walton was traded from the San Diego Clippers to Boston, where he was Sixth Man of the Year during the Celtics’ 1986 championship team.

At Wednesday’s event, Walton is expected to discuss, among other things, his life-long struggle with injuries, overcoming a speech impediment and, of course, Coach Wooden.

Given the proximity to San Francisco, Walton might even bring up the Grateful Dead.

Jonathan Kuperberg covers men’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @JonathanKupe.

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