As a lifelong basketball player, Bill Walton has offered many lessons about the sport and life in general. Now that he’s retired from professional sports, his thoughts on happiness are more insightful than ever before.
Bill Walton was a two-time College Basketball Player of the Year, an NBA MVP, and a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Despite his many honors, Walton’s career is still full with what-ifs. What if he remained in good health? What if he had started his career with the Boston Celtics?
Walton’s injuries had a long-term impact on his basketball career. He shattered his back at UCLA and lived with the agony for the rest of his life. He battled depression and didn’t believe he’d ever get better.
Walton has reached the age of 69. He just revealed his present state of health and happiness.
Bill Walton fought until he succumbed to his injuries.
On February 19, 2022, in Cleveland, Ohio, Bill Walton participates in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge as part of the 2022 All-Star Weekend at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. | Getty Images/Arturo Holmes
Walton spent ten seasons in the NBA after being selected first overall in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. He missed three complete seasons due to a foot ailment, and only three times did he play more than 58 games in a season.
Walton led the Blazers to an NBA title in his third season in the league, despite his illnesses. In 65 games, Walton averaged 18.6 points and 14.4 rebounds, which was a league high. He had a similar season the next year (18.9 points, 13.2 rebounds) and was named MVP.
Due to a foot ailment, he missed the whole 1978-79 season. The next season, he returned to the San Diego Clippers, although he only played in 14 games. He missed the following two seasons due to injuries. He returned to the Clippers for three disappointing seasons before being dealt to the Celtics before to the 1985-86 season.
Walton shone as an important member of the bench in Boston. He sat behind Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, giving the Celtics’ big players a break while also providing valuable minutes off the bench. The Celtics needed to beef up their bench, and Walton was instrumental in the team’s 1986 victory.
He played the most games in a single season (80) in his career in his first year with the Celtics. During Boston’s championship season, Walton averaged 19.3 minutes per game and was named Sixth Man of the Year. Walton, on the other hand, only played 10 regular-season games the next year due to injury. After the 1986-87 season, he never played another game in the NBA.
Walton says he’s back to being healthy and happy.
Walton’s problems were genuine. For years, the repercussions of the shattered back persisted. Dr. Steven Garfin did not conduct surgery on a desperate Walton until 2009. For years, he had been in excruciating agony. He thought he couldn’t go on several occasions.
“Four and a half years,” he stated on the Al Franken Podcast last month. “It had been a forward-thinking thing.” It wasn’t like it was all over in a flash. There was a time, February 24, 2008, but I don’t recall the date. There reached a point when I couldn’t go any more. I couldn’t move or get off the ground any longer.
“However, with the congenital deformities in my feet and the knee injuries I had from being pulled down, there was a lengthy succession of years and years of pure pain.” When I was 21, I had a shattered spine.”
Walton is grateful for his improved health. He described himself as “great” today. He expressed his concerns about his physical and emotional wellbeing to Franken.
Walton expressed his happiness by saying, “I’m happy.” “I’m grateful because Doctor Garfin gave me a second opportunity in life when he restored my spine.
“I’ve spent more than half of my adult life in hospitals.” I’ve never seen myself happily married in my adult life, and I’m more in love with my wife Lori than I’ve ever been. I’m in perfect health.
“Yes, I’m unable to do many of the activities I’d want to do, such as trek in the Sierra. For walking, I need completely flat terrain. I don’t walk for pleasure; I walk for need. I can, however, ride my bicycle. On my bike, I can travel anywhere.
“I can, however, travel somewhere in my head most of the time.” I have the ability to read, think, imagine, hope, and prepare for the future.”
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