LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton made a few stops in Louisville on Thursday.
Walton was the featured speaker at a ribbon cutting for a new alternative care rehab center at Performance Fitness and Rehab, part of Baptist Health.
The former UCLA, Portland Trailblazers, San Diego and Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics star also talked some basketball. He was recruited to UCLA by former UofL head coach Denny Crum. Crum played for and was an assistant at UCLA under the legendary John Wooden.
"So the Bruins had won five straight championships before I got there, and Denny was the guy and he came back from a trip to San Diego one time and he went in to Coach Wooden and he said, "Coach I found a player in San Diego," and Coach Wooden said, there's never been a player from San Diego, "Coach this guys got red hair," there's never been a good red headed player, Denny said, "well you better come see coach," and the rest is history.
Walton was the starting center on the UCLA team that beat Crum's first UofL team in the 1972 NCAA Final Four.
He won his second NBA Championship with the Celtics and formed a strong bond with Larry Bird.
"The Boston Celtics, my boyhood dream team and where Larry's from, just across the river here. I've been to French Lick and it was quite the pilgrimage that I made, eye opening and so spectacularly fun to see where Larry grew up.I went to the court, got some dirt and took the dirt home to my court in San Diego and co-mingled it all in, it was fantastic."
Walton has overcome his debilitating back pain, and plans to work a full schedule of games for ESPN during the upcoming college basketball season. He is a spokesman for "The Better Way Back" program You can find more information at thebetterwayback.org.