Walton Talks Business

March 5, 2003
Basketball great gets down to business

Bill Walton urges business leaders to stress teamwork

By Luis Hernandez

Staff writer

TULARE - Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton said Tuesday that communication and leadership are as important in business as they are in basketball.

"It's not about one big sale or the closing of a business deal," he said. "It's about developing the concept of a team." 

Walton said employees must feel like they're part of a team.

"It's about people," he said. "If they don't believe they're part of the team, this is not going to work."

Walton was the keynote speaker at the California Business Conference at the Heritage Complex in Tulare. Tuesday's event was sponsored by the Visalia Chamber of Commerce.

Walton helped win NBA championships with the Portland Trailblazers and the Boston Celtics. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.

The conference is a forum for business people in Kings and Tulare counties to discuss issues of jobs and the economy.

Walton played for UCLA under John Wooden during the Bruins' 88-game winning streak. He was plagued by injuries throughout his professional career. Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsey has said that, if not for the injuries, Walton would have been the greatest all-around center.

Having undergone 30 surgeries during his playing career, Walton said he sympathizes with business people who are having a difficult time but added that adversity is part of life.

"Your ability to step up after you stumble; your ability to get up after you have fallen," Waltonsaid. "What will you do when the ball bounces the other way?"

Walton is a basketball analyst for ESPN and ABC, but broadcasting didn't come naturally. Until his late 20s, Walton had a stuttering problem.

"I couldn't say hello," he said. "I couldn't say thank you."

He said he finally took the problem head on and worked to fix it.

"Now, they're looking for the person who can shut me up," he said.

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