In a statement, Larry Bird refers to Bill Walton as “one of the Greatest Ever to Play the Game.”

Under the legendary head coach John Wooden, he won two national titles in the basketball world while attending UCLA. His NBA career started off strong, as he was an All-Star twice in his first four seasons, won the MVP award in the Finals in 1976–77, led the Portland Trail Blazers to their only NBA championship, and was the regular-season MVP the following year.

The Blazers released a statement stating, “Bill Walton was a true legend—an extraordinary player, talented broadcaster, and vital part of the Blazers organization.” “Bill was much more than just a basketball player. He loomed larger than reality. We will always remember and treasure his bright and lively personality, and Rip City and our organization will miss him terribly.

Forty years ago, as the sun began to set and shadows spread across Louis Armstrong Stadium, over 18,000 fans witnessed an odd conclusion to an all-too-brief period that featured two of the greatest players in history. Initially, they marveled as the native New Yorker McEnroe defeated Borg 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and forty minutes to win the US Open for the third time in a row. However, what transpired at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, next confused and worried people.

Borg was nowhere to be seen as McEnroe was embracing his parents, Kay and John Sr., and raising the champion’s trophy in the air. He had eschewed the required news conference and post-match ceremony. Never again to be seen competing at the U.S. Open or any other major, he had hurriedly grabbed a shower and hopped in a waiting station wagon after leaving the stadium with his longtime coach and confidant, Lennart Bergelin.

Borg, who was just twenty-five years old, had already won the French Open six times and the Wimbledon championship five times in a row from 1976 to 1980, when he was defeated by McEnroe in the 1981 final. He stayed close to McEnroe for the majority of the U.S. Open final; in fact, they led 4-2 after splitting the opening two sets. But Borg appeared to lose his mind when McEnroe struck back to level the third set. Merely losing the fourth set, he shook hands and vanished.

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