Bill Walton To Be Honored As Outstanding Contributor By Atlanta Tipoff Club
December 7, 2023
Former UCLA standout to receive a lifetime contribution award by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
Two-time NCAA champion and three-time Naismith Trophy award winner Bill Walton has been selected, along with C. Vivian Stringer, as a Naismith Award honoree for his lifetime contribution to the game of basketball, as announced on Thursday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
Walton led the UCLA men's basketball program to three consecutive Final Fours (1972-74) and back-to-back NCAA titles in 1972 and 1973. He was honored as the Naismith Trophy award winner in 1972, 1973 and 1974. Walton and longtime women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer were selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Directors and will be honored during the 2024 college basketball season.
First presented in 1982 to Curt Gowdy on the men's side, and in 1993 to Margaret Wade for the women's game, the Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Basketball Award is presented annually to individuals whose extraordinary efforts have made outstanding contributions and created a long-lasting positive impact on the game of basketball. The recipients display character, integrity and dignity and have contributed to the growth, success and vitality of the sport.
Walton becomes the first former UCLA player to be honored with the outstanding contributor award. Former UCLA head coach John Wooden, who led the Bruins to 10 NCAA titles over a 27-year career in Westwood, was honored with this award in 1983.
Following his illustrious playing career at UCLA, Walton was selected No. 1 in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, helping that organization to a championship in 1977. He helped the Boston Celtics to the NBA championship in 1986. With the NBA title in 1986, he became just one of four players who have won multiple NCAA and NBA championships.
"I'm honored, privileged, fortunate, grateful, and humbled to receive this most prestigious Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Men's Basketball award on behalf of UCLA, my teammates, coaches, and our fans," Walton said. "So many of the previous award winners have been important and impactful in my life. I always played to win, I always tried my best, and I was lucky to play for the most successful college basketball program in the history of the sport. UCLA and John Wooden gave me a chance, and a platform. I have the life I do today, because of my school, our coaches, my teammates, and our fans, and because of my wife, Lori, who also went to UCLA, many people have sacrificed their dreams and lives for me. This award represents those sacrifices, and I accept this award on behalf of them, and the disciplined and honorable lives that they have led. I only wish that I had been able to do more, and better, for them. I'm the luckiest guy in the world."