It’s not a firing situation, but Bill Walton will not be returning to ESPN to cover the NBA. Walton has been dealing with back issues for years now (the reason for his original departure from ESPN), and has subsequently made the personal decision to retire from broadcast entirely. Via Sports Business Daily….

Citing persistent back problems, Bill Walton has decided not to appear on ESPN’s NBA telecasts this year, ending a relationship that started in ’02. The Basketball HOFer missed most of last season because of back pain. His deal with ESPN expires after this season. “As I return after a grueling multi-year, life-threatening, life-changing ordeal with back problems, it is time to dedicate the rest of my life to service,” Walton said in a statement released by ESPN. “It is great to be back in the game. Thanks everybody — for everything.” ESPN Exec VP/Studio & Remote Production Norby Williamson: “Bill is a Hall of Fame talent, both as a player and broadcaster. NBA fans will miss his distinct personality. We appreciate all of his contributions to ESPN and share best wishes toward continued health and happiness.”

This is obviously a sad day for the NBA community, because even though you may not always enjoy Walton’s commentary, you can’t deny his passion for the game of Basketball. Things just won’t be the same without him.

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