Former Phoenix Suns center Neal Walk dead

neal-walkFormer NBA center Neal Walk, who mostly played for the Phoenix Suns, has died at age 67. In recent years he worked for the Suns in community relations and as a photo archivist.

Walk played a total of 568 games in the NBA, holding career averages of 12.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg in 24.4 mpg. In 1972-73 Walk led the NBA in committed personal fouls.

Walk played college basketball at University of Florida where he was also the school’s first ever All-American basketball player.

In 1969, the Phoenix Suns took him with the second overall pick in the NBA Draft.

According to the NY Times, in the 68-69 season, Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks were the two expansion teams in the NBA, and a coin flip decided which would receive the first pick in the draft. The Bucks won and selected Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, while Suns selected Neal Walk.

Walk was one of the first Florida Gators to play in the NBA and proved to be a valuable center for the Suns, averaging 14.7 ppg and 8.9 rpg in 5 seasons.

Walk has also played for the New Orleans Jazz and the NY Knicks, before retiring and continuing his pro basketball career overseas in Italy and Israel.

In 1988 Walk had to undergo a spine surgery to remove a tumor, and that left him in a wheelchair, but didn’t stop him from playing basketball. Walk would go on to play wheelchair basketball for the L.A.-Phoenix Samaritans in the Southern California league of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.

In 1990, he was honored by President George Bush as the Wheelchair Athlete of the Year. In 1997 Walk got his number retired by the Florida Gators. In 2006, he was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

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