Legends of the game are on borrowed time on the face of the planet but their impact is indelible. Bill Walton has certainly been a pillar of NBA and basketball history. He left his mark on the UCLA Bruins, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, and the rest of the world. His untimely passing had many individuals mourning the loss of a great player, analyst, and an even greater person. The impression he left was not just felt in the world of sports. He inspired countless individuals, including former president Barack Obama.

Barack Obama's farewell to an NBA great

Bill Walton has unfortunately passed at the age of 71. He will always be remembered for being the dominant force in the paint from UCLA basketball to the Celtics. His flashes of off-the-post passing greatness were also the blueprint for guys like Arvydas Sabonis and other big men. While all of these are great feats of unreal physical prowess along with his two NBA championships, one of his greatest accomplishments was inspiring people around him. One of those just so happened to be Barack Obama.

The former president of the USA penned a letter, not for Memorial Day but to remember Bill Walton. He posted it on X:

“Bill Walton was one of the greatest basketball players of all time – a champion at every level and the embodiment of unselfish team play. He was also a wonderful spirit full of curiosity, humor, and kindness. We are poorer for his passing, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family,” he wrote.

Barack Obama was an avid fan of the sport and even went on to play it. He got even closer to the game due to his brother-in-law, Craig Robinson. Michelle Obama's brother played college basketball at Princeton and went on to get drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers.

This was not the only connection that the former president had to the NBA. In fact, it was the Trail Blazers and Celtics legend who urged Obama to coach at UCLA after his term was done at the White House. Obviously, the Bruins went with Mick Cronin, but this statement made back in 2019 was a testament to the fair closeness between the late NBA great and the former Head of State.

Bill Walton: A UCLA, Trail Blazers, and Celtics legend

Jan 21, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Hall of Famer basketball player Bill Walton covers the ASU Sun Devil versus USC Trojans game at Desert Financial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic Basketball Usc Asu Usc At Arizona State
© Joe Rondone/Arizona Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Walton was poised to be the greatest of all time. He boosted UCLA to their only back-to-back 30-win season without recording a loss. The Bruins would then get two national championships out of him before he headed to the NBA. At this point in his career, it was a question whether or not he would surpass great bigs like Bill Russell, George Mikan, and Wilt Chamberlain early in his career.

His efforts in college saw him land with the Trail Blazers. The dominance he showed with the Bruins was still there. This would funnel into early success as he won the 1977 NBA championship along with taking home the Finals MVP nod. Chronic foot injuries then plagued his whole career. Still, he landed with a dynastic Celtics squad that featured Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Dennis Johnson, Robert Parrish, and Kevin McHale. His season with them netted Walton a second Larry O'Brien trophy.

When it was all said and done, he was a Hall of Fame inductee by 1993.