ESPN is set to produce a documentary about a beloved Bruin basketball player with a personality that matches his stature.
Production on a Bill Walton-centric 30 for 30 documentary has begun, ESPN Films announced on Thursday. The film about the former UCLA men’s basketball star will be directed by Steve James, who has directed documentaries such as “Hoop Dreams” (1994), “America to Me” (2018) and another film in the 30 for 30 series, “No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson” (2010).
The documentary will tell Walton’s story from his high school beginnings in San Diego through his UCLA career, NBA years and life as a commentator and media personality.
Walton spent the beginning of his brief NBA career with the Portland Trail Blazers, winning the 1977 NBA Championship and 1978 MVP with the franchise. Walton’s injury-plagued journey with the Trail Blazers will likely be touched on within the film, as will his resurgence as the Sixth Man of the Year with the 1986 NBA Champion Boston Celtics.
The dominant college career Walton put together in Westwood, meanwhile, still has him atop many lists of the best college basketball players ever.
Walton won three national player of the year awards and two NCAA titles and was a key part of the nation’s premier program. Across his three seasons and 87 games with the Bruins, Walton averaged 20.3 points, 15.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, which was more than enough to make him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft.
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Walton’s distinct personality should also be a major focus of the documentary. From his love of the Earth and unique broadcasting style to his relationship with former UCLA coach John Wooden and his interest in music and politics, 30 for 30 has many corners of Walton’s world to dive into.
In a press release, ESPN announced a group of names that will be interviewed for the project. Among those listed are Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Artis Gilmore, World B. Free, Robert Parish, Jim Gray, Luke Walton, Jamal Wilkes, Brent Musburger, Bob Ryan and several other key figures who have been close with Walton over the past 69 years.
The eighth 30 for 30 film ever produced was “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks” back in 2009, and it was the first to be centered around a former Bruin. “Arthur and Jonnie” told the story of former UCLA tennis player and Wimbledon champion Arthur Ashe and was released in 2013.
Walton will now join Miller and Ashe as a major series figure, breaking the near-decade gap between stories being told about Bruins by ESPN Films.
ESPN has yet to reveal any other details regarding the production of the film, including a release date.
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