VIDEO: Bill Walton Eulogizes Friend, Teammate And Broadcast Partner Steve 'Snapper' Jones
After the news broke that Portland native, Portland Trail Blazer and legendary broadcaster Steve "Snapper" Jones passed away in Houston at the age of 75, one of his fellow teammates both on the court and in the booth, Hall of Famer Bill Walton, used some of his airtime while doing commentary for the Arkasas vs. UCONN game at the PK80 Tournament last weekend to eulogize his friend in true Walton fashion.
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"One of the finest human beings I have ever known," said Walton as the play on the court continued. "Steve Jones, ten years older than I am, Steve Jones saved my basketball career, he made my broadcasting career. An incredible spirit, an incredible soul... A Portland native, Franklin High School, went to the University of Oregon and always told me that he was the greatest basketball player in the history of Oregon. And who was I to disagree? Because here was this fantastic soul, this force of light and optimism and hope who always saw the big picture."
Jones and Walton both played for the 1975-76 Trail Blazers team that went 37-45 in Lenny Wilkins' last season in Portland. It would be Snapper's last season as a player as well, though to hear Walton tell it, a trip the two took to Kah-Nee-Tah put Walton on a path that would result with Portland winning their first and only NBA championship the next season. Jones did color commentary during the Finals for CBS Sports during Portland's championship run and would go on to call games for just about every network that aired NBA games, including on NBC and ABC, where he was often paired with Walton.
"We couldn’t wait to get together to work," said Walton. "The guy was just absolutely instrumental in my whole life, but in people’s understanding of not only how to play basketball, but how to live your life."