The Celtics Paid Tribute to NBA Legend Bill Walton During Game 1 of the Finals

The Celtics paid tribute to NBA legend Bill Walton ahead of and during Game 1 of the NBA Finals.


Jun. 7 2024, Published 9:52 a.m. ET

Jaylen Brown during Game 1 of the 2024 Finals with a Walton black band.
Source: Getty Images

After more than a week without any professional basketball, the Boston Celtics took on the Dallas Mavericks in game 1 of the NBA Finals on June 6, 2024, and Boston emerged with a comfortable victory. Some of the NBA fans who tuned into the game were distracted by the Walton shirts that many members of the team were wearing.

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If you're not up on your NBA history, you may have been confused about why the Celtics were wearing these shirts. Here's what they meant, and what role they played in a much larger tribute to a Celtics legend.

Kristaps Porzingis wears a shirt honoring former NBA player Bill Walton prior to Game One of the 2024 NBA Finals on June 6, 2024
Source: Getty Images
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Why did the Celtics jerseys say Walton?

The Celtics were wearing warmup shirts that said Walton on them to honor Bill Walton, and they also had a black band on their jerseys with his name on them. Bill was a legend both as a player for teams like the Trailblazers and the Celtics (where he won a championship) and afterward as a broadcaster.

Bill died on May 27, when the Celtics were playing the Indiana Pacers on the road. The team hadn't had a chance to honor him on their home court since his death.

In addition to the shirts, Bill was honored with a moment of silence before the game, and pins were also handed out that celebrated his memory. A tribute video was played before the game that honored Bill's legacy both on the court and off. He was an advocate for civil rights and parity in a sport where he was one of a few powerful white players.

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also weighed in on Bill's legacy ahead of the game, saying that the two got to know each other as they traveled overseas to spread the game's popularity.

"I can't think of a better ambassador for the NBA than Bill," Adam said. "Right up to this past season, he was working and doing an alternate telecast for us."

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"Bill couldn't stop complimenting the current players, and saw the staggering ability of these guys," Adam continued. "Every generation grew to know him, and he will truly be missed. It's a sad moment in the league."

Needless to say, Bill left behind an enormous legacy that extended well beyond the winning he was able to do on the court, which is a huge part of the reason he received such a loving tribute following his death.

The Walton shirts aren't for sale yet.

Although the biggest tribute to Bill was undoubtedly the display at the beginning of Game 1, the Celtics jerseys will continue to say Walton on them throughout this year's Finals.

It's unclear whether the warmups that the team wore will be available for sale or not.

The Celtics are up one game on the Mavericks at the moment. They have another home game on June 9 before the action shifts to Dallas for games three and four in this best-of-seven series.

The current Celtics roster is likely hoping they can make Bill proud by bringing home another championship. It would be the first for the team since 2008.

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