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Hall of Famer Bill Walton, 71, dies of cancer

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Two-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Bill Walton has died of cancer at the age of 71, the NBA announced Monday.

“Bill Walton was truly one of a kind,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “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.

“Bill then translated his infectious enthusiasm and love for the game to broadcasting, where he delivered insightful and colorful commentary which entertained generations of basketball fans. But what I will remember most about him was his zest for life. He was a regular presence at league events — always upbeat, smiling ear to ear and looking to share his wisdom and warmth. I treasured our close friendship, envied his boundless energy and admired the time he took with every person he encountered.”

Walton originally joined ESPN in 2002 as a lead analyst for NBA games before shifting to college basketball in 2012. He was named one of the top 50 sports broadcasters of all-time by the American Sportscasters Association in 2009..

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