To recognize the 75th anniversary of the NBA, the league named 75 of the best players to a random, unranked list. By contrast, the Athletic is giving players a number, and now Portland Trail Blazers’ legendary center Bill Walton has been named as the 64th best. According to Jason Quick of the Athletic, Walton was not interviewed for the rankings piece, as he viewed himself a “team guy.” However, Quick was able to talk with Walton’s teammate on the 1977 NBA Championship team, Dave Twardzik.
“Bill not wanting to do that because of his idea of team, that pretty much sums him up, to a T,” said Dave Twardzik, who played guard alongside Walton on the Trail Blazers’ 1977 title team. “The beauty of our title team was we all sacrificed individual stats for the sum of the team, and nobody did that more than Bill.
“He certainly could have scored more, played more differently than he did, but he was extremely unselfish. He could have been the best passing center to maybe ever play.”
Quick quotes extensively from Walton’s autobiography, but one thing of note is Twardzik’s sentiment regarding Walton’s legend, as it’s something many in Rip City have said over the years:
Added Twardzik: “The real shame is he could have been one of the greatest to ever play had he stayed healthy.”
Walton was the 1977 Finals MVP, and he was also the 1978 MVP. Walton won another championship in 1986 with the Boston Celtics, where he was also named Sixth Man of the Year.
Prior to Walton, Damian Lillard had been named 68th in the Athletic’s rankings.
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