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Terry Stotts Shares Story About Wooden, Walton, Early Fandom

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When Terry Stotts was 14 years old, he wrote John Wooden a letter. Wooden personally responded.

NBA: Preseason-Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday night, the Portland Trail Blazers will celebrate their 40th anniversary of winning the 1977 NBA championship. Members of that historic team will be in attendance, including NBA Hall-of-Famer and former team leader Bill Walton, as Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and company host the Los Angeles Lakers. Prior to ceremonious affair, current Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts shared a story about his early Walton fandom, as well as his appreciation for his team’s upcoming opponent, at the Trail Blazers Tuesday morning practice.

video via CSN NW

I saw Bill a year ago at the Maurice Lucas Foundation, and I’ve always had a lot of admiration for him in particular. When I was 14 years old, living on Guam, I wrote—and Walton was in college—I was having problems with my knees and I wrote John Wooden a letter just, like, ‘What are you doing for his knees, because my knees are…’ you know, I was just a young kid, 14 years old, growing into my body. Anyway, so John Wooden wrote me back a hand-written note about what Bill was doing for his knees. I still have that letter.

But the other part of it was, when I was on Guam, we got all of the Lakers games the year they won the championship and won 33 straight, and UCLA Walton’s sophomore year, we got all 30 of their games. Dick Enberg and Lynn Shackelford were doing the color. So we got all 30 of those games so I was a big UCLA, Laker fan because we got those games, but it was a week late; we always got them a week late. But I was a big fan of his going back to what, ‘72, ‘73?

Does he know?

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t think I ever told him that.

I’ll be sure to.

Tell him that.

What was the advice that Wooden gave you?

Heat hydroculators. I had no idea what they were and we didn’t have them on Guam, so it didn’t matter.

Hydroculators?

Well, we still have them now. I mean, you know, heat ‘em up.

Walton played for coach Wooden at UCLA from 1971-1974, averaging a team-high 20.4 points and 16.8 rebounds per game during the season Stotts referenced. The accolades he accumulated for his performance that year included:

  • Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year
  • Helms Player of the Year
  • Sporting News Player of the Year
  • United Press International Player of the Year
  • United States Basketball Writers Association Player of the Year

Now 64 years old, Walton is a successful NBA sportscaster. Stotts, 59, continues to hold him in high regard.