The career NBA statistics read 16.7 points over nine seasons with Detroit, Houston and Kansas City. In college at Providence, the two-time All-America led the nation in scoring his senior year (30.4) while averaging 25.3 points for three collegiate seasons totaling 2,045 points. But stats never told the entire story of Jimmy Walker, who passed away at the age of 63 on Monday due to lung cancer. To shed the proper perspective on the former No. 1 overall pick of the 1967 draft is his former Pistons teammate and roommate, Hall of Famer Dave Bing ...
On Walker the Person
A fun loving guy, a good friend. He actually lived with me his rookie year as opposed to getting an apartment, so we became very, very close friends. Over the last several years, he kind of disappeared on everybody. He was one of the only guys that I couldnít find and keep in contact with. For the years that we were together, we were very close friends.
On the Expectations When Walker Arrived in Detroit in 1967
We thought we would have potentially the best backcourt in the NBA at that time because I had just won Rookie of the Year and was pretty well established after my first year and Jimmy came in as the No. 1 college player, just a great player. So we teamed up and had a very good backcourt, but we didnít have the frontcourt players to take us to the playoffs or championship. We didnít have a legitimate center. We had no guys up front who were real scoring threats because [Dave] DeBusschere was traded the following year. We were weak up front. But Jimmy was just an unbelievable talent. We meshed our skills pretty well together and there was no jealousy between the two of us. We got along very well and played well together.
On Walkerís Game
Everybody talks about Earl Monroe and his spin move. Well, I donít think anybody was better than Jimmy. He was a great ballhandler, but he was a scorer and he could shoot the ball. If he were playing today, the three-point shot was right down his ally, just a great offensive player, very skilled. He was strong, had a good body. If there was a weakness in his game it would have been on the defensive end. Offensively he was as good as anybody.
On Memories of Jimmy
I think the big thing was not so much the NBA, it was that Detroit had just gone through a riot back in the í67 time frame and he and I were the two players on the team who went into the community here and played. We started playing in the St. Cecilia tournament and that is where all the guys from the inner city played. It was great for them because before us no pros had some down there to play, so we became fast friends with a lot of the good young players here in the city and there was a camaraderie built. The pros and a lot of the college and high school players, the great players that came out of here, we all got to know each other very well and helped, I think, a healing process for the city.
On Walkerís Legacy
He was obviously a great, great college player. I donít think that he reached the heights that he probably should have as a pro. When he was traded from the Pistons, I thought by the two of us being separated, I thought he would become a leader wherever he went, but that didnít happen for whatever reason. I donít know why. He was a good pro, but he was a great college player. We knew each other from college, but Syracuse never played Providence while we were in school.
Final Thoughts Ö
Iím sorry obviously that the last several years that we werenít in contact with each other. Like I said, Jimmy just disappeared. He seemed off the face of the Earth. He is the father of Jalen Rose and I had always tried to arrange a meeting between the two of them and was unsuccessful in doing that which always bothered me because I knew Jalen. It would have been great for the two of them to get to know each other, but it didnít happen. That is the sad part for me. I have good memories of Jimmy because we had just a lot of fun together. He was one of the fun-loving guys. You could be around him and you knew you were going to have a good time. Heíll be missed.