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5.14.2014

Bill Walton Once Won 142 Straight Games



Born November 5, 1952, in La Mesa, California, Walton had varied childhood interests, including music and football. His older brother Bruce played in the NFL; Bill chose basketball after spurting from 6'1" to 6'7" between his sophomore and junior years at Helix High School. As a senior, he led Helix to a 33-0 record, averaging 29 points and 24 rebounds. The next season, he drove UCLA's freshman team to a 20-0 mark. Next came back-to-back 30-0 seasons with the varsity, culminating in NCAA championship-game victories over Florida State in 1972 and Memphis State in 1973. In all, Walton went five years and 142 games between losses, until a 71-70 setback at Notre Dame his senior season. The college Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons, he graduated as UCLA's all-time leading rebounder and second-leading scorer.

After the jump, Bill reminisces about this little-known accomplishment.


TJ: Your amateur and professional basketball career was filled with so many amazing accomplishments. There are two that I’d like to ask you about. The first is maybe the greatest winning streak in the history of sports. For five years, between your junior year in high school and your junior year in college, you didn’t lose a single game. By my math it was 49 straight at Helix High School, a perfect 20-0 on the freshman team at UCLA then 73 straight wins to start your varsity career. What did it feel like to win 142 straight games?

BW: Well. It should have been a lot more than that. We had good teams. We had very good coaches. I was so lucky to grow up in Southern California in the 50s and 60s. I live in my hometown, San Diego, and every coach I ever had has a child was a John Wooden disciple. Upbeat, positive, encouraging, supportive. That whole style, that whole nature. One of the things that’s always impressed me so much about the Spurs franchise is that same type of leadership, which starts with Peter Holt and comes down through Gregg Popovich and RC Buford. How it plays out in the type of people the Spurs draft, trade for and sign as free agents. The way they build their team. That was the way I thought all of life was. It was beautiful, it was sunny. My parents were incredible. I had great teachers and coaches and teams. It was all just wonderful. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

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