Dec 22, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; ESPN analyst Bill Walton during the game between the UCLA Bruins and the Maryland Terrapins at Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The legendary Bill Walton passed away from cancer on Monday. Walton’s death hit the sports and sports media world hard, as a giant in basketball and basketball commentary is gone now.

Walton and his commentary stylings, particularly in college basketball, helped to mythologize the former NBA great during his second act. But of course, he also honed in on the NBA, both on NBC and ESPN, in the days before social media. He quickly became a commentator that legions of fans everywhere loved.

It was clear that many of his friends and colleagues in sports media felt the same way about him. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt delivered a memorable, heartfelt eulogy on SportsCenter Monday night.

The best of Walton wasn’t just his one-liners; his charm and over-the-top silliness also helped. His chemistry with the likes of Dave Pasch produced some incredibly entertaining moments and memories. Pasch’s outpouring after Walton’s death on Monday was tough to read but showed the bond the two had. So did Pasch’s posts on X about the texts Walton would send him, pretending not to know he was calling the games Pasch was calling.

As someone who thoroughly covered college basketball from 2013-22, Walton became part of the deal (even though the conference I wrote about, the Big East, has its extensive Fox Sports deal). You still couldn’t escape his charm and the way he called games. While it’s not the worst thing in the world, sometimes, to be haughty about what’s on sports broadcasts. And it’s often said that not everyone tunes into games for the commentators. But Walton was an outlier.

Time is undefeated. At some point, we’ll all take our final steps. Bill Walton lived a long, fruitful life and spread joy to everyone as much as he could. On commentary, he was your wacky favorite, and you appreciated him for what he brought to the game. There will never be another. Rest in Peace, Bill Walton. May the Conference of Champions will live on forever with you.

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022