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Death Comes In 3's

The Legendary Careers of Bill Walton, Jerry West, and Willie Mays

By Methodical thinker Published 30 days ago 3 min read
Death Comes In 3's
Photo by Philippa Rose-Tite on Unsplash

In the pantheon of sports legends, few names resonate as profoundly as Bill Walton, Jerry West, and Willie Mays. Each of these athletes has left an indelible mark on their respective sports, captivating fans and setting standards of excellence that endure to this day. This article delves into the illustrious careers of these three icons, examining their achievements, contributions, and legacies.

Bill Walton: The Towering Center of Basketball (1952-2024)

Early Career and College Dominance

Bill Walton's journey to basketball greatness began at UCLA under the legendary coach John Wooden. Walton led the Bruins to two NCAA championships in 1972 and 1973, earning multiple Player of the Year awards. His dominance in college basketball was highlighted by his performance in the 1973 NCAA championship game, where he scored 44 points on 21-of-22 shooting.

Professional Career and NBA Success

Walton was the first overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft, selected by the Portland Trail Blazers. His NBA career, though marred by injuries, was marked by significant achievements:

1977 NBA Championship: Walton led the Trail Blazers to their first and only NBA championship, earning the Finals MVP.

1978 NBA MVP: Despite injuries, Walton was named the league MVP, showcasing his all-around skills and defensive prowess.

Sixth Man Award: Later in his career, Walton revitalized his career with the Boston Celtics, winning the Sixth Man of the Year award and contributing to the Celtics' 1986 championship.

Legacy and Impact

Walton's influence extends beyond his playing career. Known for his articulate commentary and passionate advocacy for the game, Walton has become a beloved broadcaster and ambassador for basketball. His perseverance through injuries and his commitment to team success over personal accolades define his legacy.

Jerry West: The Iconic Mr. Clutch (1938-2024)

Collegiate and Early NBA Career

Jerry West, known as "Mr. Clutch," began his ascent to basketball stardom at West Virginia University, where he was a consensus All-American. Selected by the Los Angeles Lakers as the second overall pick in the 1960 NBA Draft, West quickly established himself as one of the premier guards in the league.

Lakers' Success and Individual Accolades

West's career is synonymous with the success of the Lakers during the 1960s and 1970s:

Scoring Prowess: West averaged 27 points per game over his career, making him one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history.

1969 NBA Finals MVP: Despite losing the Finals, West's performance earned him the Finals MVP, the only player to receive the award from the losing team.

1972 NBA Championship: West finally secured an NBA title, adding a crucial piece to his illustrious career.

Post-Playing Career and Enduring Influence

West transitioned seamlessly into executive roles, becoming a successful general manager for the Lakers and later the Golden State Warriors. His talent for team building and eye for talent have cemented his status as one of the most influential figures in basketball history.

Willie Mays: The Say Hey Kid (1931-2024)

Early Life and MLB Debut

Willie Mays, known as the "Say Hey Kid," made an immediate impact upon joining the New York Giants in 1951. His combination of speed, power, and defensive prowess set him apart from his peers.

Career Achievements and Records

Mays' career is a testament to sustained excellence and versatility:

660 Home Runs: Mays ranks among the top in career home runs, showcasing his power-hitting ability.

24 All-Star Selections: His consistent performance earned him more All-Star selections than almost any other player in MLB history.

12 Gold Glove Awards: Mays' defensive skills were unparalleled, often making spectacular catches that left fans in awe.

Legacy and Cultural Impact

Mays' impact extends beyond his on-field accomplishments. As one of the first African American stars in baseball, he played a crucial role in breaking down racial barriers and paving the way for future generations of players. His charisma and excellence made him a beloved figure in the sports world and beyond.

Conclusion

The careers of Bill Walton, Jerry West, and Willie Mays are a testament to the heights of athletic achievement and the enduring legacy of sports legends. Each of these athletes has contributed to the rich tapestry of their respective sports, leaving a legacy that inspires and captivates fans across generations. Their stories of triumph, resilience, and excellence continue to resonate, ensuring their place in the annals of sports history. Rest in peace fellas........

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