Mike Breen shares story about the late Bill Walton Photo Credit: NBA Today on ESPN

Many around the sports media world have shared their thoughts about the late Bill Walton following his death on Monday after a long battle with cancer. Most have credited him for his abilities as both a basketball player and a broadcaster. But it is away from the court where Walton perhaps had the most impact on some of his peers in sports media.

Walton and Mike Breen both worked on ESPN’s coverage of the NBA around the same time. And while the two are largely synonymously remembered with different broadcast partners (Breen with Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, and Walton with Dave Pasch) during their time with the network, the two did cross paths plenty to work together, most infamously during the broadcast of the Malice at the Palace in 2004.

But seemingly, Breen’s fondest memory of Walton came outside of his career. On NBA Today on Tuesday, Breen shared a story of how Walton built a relationship with his late father, who was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease at the time during the latter stages of his life.

“I’ve been sharing this story for about 15 years now when anybody asks me ‘What is Bill Walton like?'” said Breen. “It has to do with my family, but it is a great way to show what Bill was all about. My Dad had Parkinson’s Disease and it started to get advanced to the point where we were afraid he wouldn’t be able to travel much. My younger brother Pete gave me a great idea. Before Dad can’t travel, why don’t we take him out to San Diego where the U.S.S. Midway is stationed as a museum? My Dad was stationed on the Midway during the Korean War and had not been on the aircraft carrier since he left the service.

“So, we made plans to go. Bill lived in San Diego, so I called him to get a hotel recommendation. Of course, Bill said ‘You’re not staying at a hotel, you’re staying with me’. I convinced my father and brother and we were going to spend three days at Bill’s house. For the next three days, he did not leave my father’s side. Wherever we went, Bill was seated right next to my father.

“When it came time to go to the Midway, we thought we were just gonna go and buy tickets like everybody does that wants to take the tour. Bill called in advance and said that one of your heroes is returning to the ship he served on. The commander of the Midway was the one who greeted us.”

Breen went on to share that these three days had a profound impact on his father. So much so that he continued to talk about that day with Walton until his passing.

“By the end of the three days, Bill wasn’t my friend, he was my father’s friend. When he came back, he didn’t live much longer than that. But that’s all he talked about. They were the best three days of the late years of his life. Bill made them the best three days.”

This story just goes to show the kind of character and kindness Walton had in his heart, which will be deeply missed by the sports world as we mourn his passing.

[NBA on ESPN on X]

About Reice Shipley

Reice Shipley is a staff writer for Comeback Media that graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Sports Media. He previously worked at Barrett Sports Media and is a fan of all things Syracuse sports.