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Bill Walton to headline UNA Lions Athletic Club Dinner

FLORENCE – Basketball legend and broadcaster Bill Walton will bring his entertaining and engaging story to the North Alabama Lions Athletic Club’s upcoming dinner and auction. The event is 5 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center.

The dinner marks the kickoff to the fall season at North Alabama, which just completed its transition to the Division I ranks. The Lions Athletic Club welcomed former Major League Baseball player and coach Pete Rose last year. 

“We are so ready for fall. Many of our athletes are back on campus already with the rest moving in August 2,” said UNA Athletics Director Dr. Josh Looney. “It’s our first full year of D1 and we will be able to compete with no restrictions.”

That means the Lions will be eligible for playoffs and championships this season. 

Looney said UNA and the community are excited about Bill Walton coming to town.

“This is a huge fundraiser for the Lions Athletic Club and the Athletics Department,” he said. “It’s incredibly exciting, and it’s going to be a great time to come to Florence.”

Walton, who played for all-time great coach John Wooden at UCLA, won three straight player of the year awards and led the Bruins to two straight national titles in 1972 and 1973.

The Portland Trail Blazers took Walton as the first pick in the 1974 NBA draft, and he went on to earn two MVP awards, a championship with Portland in 1977 and another with the Boston Celtics in 1986. He was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

After retiring from the NBA at the age of 34 in 1987, Walton began his second career as a sports broadcaster. He has worked games for virtually every sports network, as an analyst and color commentator. He has two Emmy awards and multiple awards for his work in sports television. 

A humanitarian and clean energy advocate, Walton is also a noted “Deadhead” (that’s a Grateful Dead fan for the uninitiated) and often mentions them in his broadcasts. And he is rarely at a loss for words. Some notable quotes include:

“The art of tossing up the jump ball has really declined. These officials need to spend more time practicing in the offseason.”

“But you have to understand, my beard is so nasty. I mean, it’s the only beard in the history of Western Civilization that makes Bob Dylan’s beard look good.”

“Come on, that was no foul! It may be a violation of all the basic rules of human decency, but it’s not a foul.”

“At 49, I can say something I never would have said when I was a player, that I’m a better person because of my failures and disgraces.”

With Walton at the mic, you never know what wit or wisdom you might get. What you do know is that it will be an entertaining and inspiring time. But tickets are almost gone.

“We are nearing a complete sellout,” Looney said. “We released some single tickets in the last couple of days, but they are going fast. It’ll be a different kind of event from Pete Rose last year. Bill may spend as much time talking about the Grateful Dead as he will talking about sports. It’s going to be a good time.”  

To hear the legend himself, grab your tickets to the Lion Pride Dinner and Auction by clicking here. 

To become a sponsor or purchase a table, contact Megan Dye, associate athletic director for Alumni/Annual Giving/Marketing, at 256-765-4615 or email [email protected].

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