ESPN will produce a documentary about a beloved Bruin basketball player with a personality to match his stature.
Production has begun on a Bill Walton-centric 30 for 30 documentary, ESPN Films announced Thursday. The film, about the former UCLA men’s basketball star, is directed by Steve James, who has directed documentaries such as Hoop Dreams (1994), America to Me (2018) and another 30 for 30 film, No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson” (2010).
The documentary tells Walton’s story from his early days in high school in San Diego, through his UCLA career, NBA years, and life as a commentator and media personality.
Walton spent the beginning of his short 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 addressed in the film, as will his resurgence as sixth man of the year with the 1986 NBA champions Boston Celtics.
Meanwhile, the dominant collegiate career that Walton built at Westwood still ranks him on many lists of the greatest collegiate basketball players of all time.
Winner of three National Player of the Year awards and two NCAA titles, Walton has been an integral part of the nation’s premier program. In 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 was also to 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 interests in music and politics, 30 for 30 has many corners of Walton’s world to delve into.
In a press release, ESPN announced a group of names to 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 were close to Walton in the last 69 years.
The eighth 30-for-30 film ever made was 2009’s Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks, and it was the first to center 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 be a key character alongside Miller and Ashe, bridging the nearly decade-long gap between the stories ESPN Films tells about Bruins.
ESPN has yet to announce any further production details for the film, including a release date.
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