Chet Walker, NBA champion and filmmaker, dies at 84

However, Walker scored just 10 points in Game 6, and after the Bulls’ Game 7 loss in Oakland, California he was hospitalized with a recurrence of a kidney infection, which later led to scarring and required constant medication.

In a 2022 interview, Williams said he still regularly spoke to Walker, adding: “One of the things that bothers him is why the Bulls never retired his No. 25. He’d say, ‘You and I helped save basketball in Chicago.’ And they retired Bob Love and Jerry Sloan’s number, so why wouldn’t they retire Chet’s number?”

Chester Walker was born Feb. 22, 1940, in Bethlehem, Miss., the youngest of 10 children of John and Regenia Walker. His family owned a small cotton farm on which Walker worked until his mother, after losing her daughter to tuberculosis in 1950 and suffering from her husband’s physical abuse, moved with her youngest children to Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Experiencing integration firsthand, Walker excelled at Benton Harbor High School and earned a scholarship to Bradley University, where he was a two-time consensus All-America, averaging 24.4 points and 12.8 rebounds over three seasons. Nicknamed “Chet the Jet,” he was drafted in the second round by the Syracuse Nationals, made the NBA’s All-Rookie Team and moved with the franchise to Philadelphia in 1963. He finished with career averages of 18.2 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Walker’s mentor in the film industry and connection to Hollywood was his Chicago neighbor, producer Zev Brown. Brown was the executive producer of Walker’s first production in 1979, “Freedom Road,” a television miniseries about a former slave who reaches the United States Senate during Reconstruction. Based on Howard Fast’s 1944 novel, the series starred Muhammad Ali and Kris Kristofferson.


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