Chet Walker at all times appeared to seek out himself in a behind-the-scenes function. Because the “different man” on an NBA champion Philadelphia 76ers group that starred Wilt Chamberlain and Hal Greer, Walker hardly ever, if ever, acquired high billing. However whether or not he was battling an opposing ahead one-on-one or going head-to-head with show-business sorts, Walker as a rule got here out on high
Throughout his 13-year NBA profession with the Sixers and the Chicago Bulls within the 1960s and ’70s, Walker amassed 18,831 factors and earned seven All-Star Workforce picks. Solely twice did his scoring common dip under 15 — a noteworthy achievement provided that offensive alternatives in Philadelphia have been rationed amongst future Corridor of Famers Chamberlain, Greer and Billy Cunningham. And in Chicago, they have been shared with the formidable Bob Love.
Chet “The Jet” was among the many greatest open-court forwards of his day. He notably loved drawing fouls. Walker performed tenacious protection and proved remarkably sturdy. He by no means missed greater than six video games in any season, and have become one of many few gamers to look in additional than 1,000 video games (1,032) for his profession.
Walker’s groups made the playoffs yearly, and he had similar profession scoring averages of 18.2 factors in each the common season and the postseason. His influence was most evident in Chicago, the place the Bulls reached the playoffs in every of Walker’s six seasons however not within the yr earlier than he arrived or the yr after he left.
When he turned in his duffel bag for a briefcase in 1975, Walker found that he might have an effect within the leisure enterprise as effectively, even with out the good thing about coaching. He went on to supply a lot of tv and have movies, and he even picked up an Emmy Award for his function in co-producing “A Mom’s Braveness: The Mary Thomas Story,” a made-for-TV film portraying the life and travails of Isiah Thomas’ mom.
Like Isiah Thomas, Walker grew up in poverty. Born in 1940, he and his household lived in a housing challenge in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Additionally like Thomas, Walker battled adversity and received a basketball scholarship. He went on to turn into an All-America ahead at Bradley College in neighboring Illinois. In three varsity seasons, he averaged 24.four factors and 12.eight rebounds and shot .552 from the ground.
The NBA’s Syracuse Nationals, in determined want of frontcourt scoring and rebounding assist, made Walker the 12th general choose within the 1962 NBA Draft. Walker averaged 12.three factors and seven.2 rebounds in 1962-63 and earned a berth on the NBA All-Rookie Workforce.
Previous to the 1963-64 season, the franchise moved to Philadelphia and have become the 76ers. Walker started to emerge that yr, averaging 17.three factors and a career-high 10.three rebounds and making his first look within the NBA All-Star Recreation. The Sixers, nevertheless, struggled to a 34-46 document and an early exit from the playoffs.
The group’s fortunes started to vary in 1964-65 with the midseason acquisition of Chamberlain from the San Francisco Warriors. Chamberlain was no stranger to the Metropolis of Brotherly Love — he had been born there and had began his NBA profession with the Warriors once they have been based mostly in Philadelphia.
After the arrival of Billy Cunningham in 1965, the 76ers boasted one of many best frontcourts ever assembled. In 1966-67, their second yr of taking part in collectively, the trio of Chamberlain, Cunningham and Walker powered Philadelphia to a 68-13 document and the NBA title. Walker, though usually yielding to his frontcourt ‘mates and Greer within the backcourt, posted his best season with the group, tallying 19.three factors and eight.1 rebounds. He additionally averaged 21.7 factors within the playoffs. The group was thought of by many to be the best in NBA historical past.
Walker put in two extra strong seasons with the Sixers after that championship yr, however Philadelphia did not return to the Finals. Previous to the 1969-70 marketing campaign, Walker was traded to a sputtering Chicago Bulls membership together with backup ahead Shaler Halimon for Jim Washington and a participant to be named later. The transfer was a jolt to the 29-year-old Walker, who had made a house for himself in Philadelphia. He even thought of retirement. Fortunately for the Bulls, he did not observe by way of on the notion.
Over the subsequent six seasons with Chicago, Walker scored not less than 19 factors yearly and performed in 4 extra All-Star Video games. He helped carry a group that additionally included Bob Love, Norm Van Lier and Jerry Sloan to 4 straight 50-win campaigns. In a 1971-72 tilt in opposition to the Cincinnati Royals, Walker tallied a career-high 56 factors. He completed that yr with a career-best scoring common of 22.zero factors.
Walker’s six-year honeymoon in Chicago resulted in ’75 when administration rejected his $200,000 wage demand. Additionally they refused to commerce or launch him. So Walker went to courtroom, suing the Bulls and the NBA for violation of federal antitrust legal guidelines. Walker misplaced the case. At age 35, coming off a season by which he averaged 19.2 factors regardless of tendinitis-wracked knees, an embittered Walker was by way of. As for the Bulls, their win whole plummeted by half in 1975-76, to 24 video games.
Over time, Walker had saved in contact together with his buddy Zev Braun, a Beverly Hills film producer. After shedding his courtroom case, Walker moved to Tinseltown, connected with Braun, and launched into a brand new profession. The transition was not simple, as he informed HOOP Journal in 1985: “The adjustment was very troublesome. I have been out eight years and I am simply now starting to calm down in life. You need to be taught there’s extra to life than basketball.”
Working with Braun and different producers, Walker ushered by way of a lot of tasks. Amongst them have been “Freedom Highway,” a 1980 NBC miniseries starring Kris Kristofferson and Muhammad Ali; the 1983 movie The Fiendish Plot of Fu Manchu, the late Peter Sellers’s last image; “Holy Angels,” an NBC film of the week and the 1995 movie The Glass Defend.
It was “The Mary Thomas Story” in 1989, nevertheless, that gave Walker probably the most private satisfaction. “I noticed Isiah’s battle rising up on the west facet of Chicago. I discovered it very irritating,” he informed HOOP. “The story of Isiah’s mom is so much like my very own life.”
The movie, shot on location within the Thomas household’s neighborhood, portrayed Mary Thomas’ struggles to boost her 9 youngsters with out her husband, who had left house when Isiah was three years outdated. On one event, she warded off a gang of hoods with a shotgun. “There’s just one gang right here, and I lead it,” she warned the youths, who had come in search of Isiah. “Get off my porch or I will blow you off it!”