Neal Walk

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Neal Walk
Neal Walk 1969.jpg
Walk in 1969.
Personal information
Born (1948-07-29)July 29, 1948
Cleveland, Ohio
Died October 4, 2015(2015-10-04) (aged 67)
Phoenix, Arizona
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Listed weight 220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school Miami Beach
(Miami Beach, Florida)
College Florida (1966–1969)
NBA draft 1969 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall
Selected by the Phoenix Suns
Playing career 1969–1981
Position Center
Number 41
Career history
19691974 Phoenix Suns
1974–1975 New Orleans Jazz
1975–1976 New York Knicks
1977–1978 Reyer Venezia Mestre
1978–1981 Hapoel Ramat Gan
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points 7,157 (12.6 ppg)
Rebounds 4,392 (7.7 rpg)
Assists 1,214 (2.1 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Neal Eugene Walk (July 29, 1948 – October 4, 2015) was an American college and professional basketball player who was a center in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for seven seasons during the late 1960s and 1970s. Walk played college basketball for the University of Florida, and still remains the Florida Gators' all-time rebounds leader.[1] The Phoenix Suns picked Walk second overall in the 1969 NBA draft, having lost the coin toss with the Milwaukee Bucks for Lew Alcindor. Walk played professionally for the Suns, the New Orleans Jazz and the New York Knicks of the NBA.

Early life

Walk was born in Cleveland, Ohio, was Jewish and was born to a Jewish family, and moved to Miami Beach, Florida, with his parents Al and Sylvia at the age of 6.[2][3][4][5][6] He attended Miami Beach High School, and played high school basketball for the Miami Beach Hi-Tides, starting for the first time in his senior year.[6] His high school team made the state semifinals; made up of mostly Jewish players it sometimes was subjected to opposing fans yelling anti-Semitic comments at them.[6]

College career

Walk accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he played for coach Tommy Bartlett's Florida Gators men's basketball team for three seasons from 1966 to 1969. In his junior season, Walk led the NCAA with 19.8 rebounds a game and average 26.5 points per game.[1] As a senior team captain, he led the Gators to the 1969 National Invitation Tournament—their first-ever post-season tournament. When Walk graduated from Florida, he was the Gators' all-time leading scorer, and still maintains the team records for career rebounds (1,181), average points per game (20.8), and rebounds in a single game (31), among others. His No. 41 jersey remains the only number to have been retired by the Florida basketball program.[7]

Professional career

Walk was drafted in the first round (second pick overall) of the 1969 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns, after they lost a coin toss with the Milwaukee Bucks for the number one pick, which turned out to be Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).[8] In an interview with author Charley Rosen near the end of his life, Walk commented on his perception as one of the league's great "booby prizes," saying "I never paid attention to that bullshit. How many guys would love to be the second overall pick?"[9]

He played for the Suns from 1969 to 1974, averaging a career best 20.2 points per game and 12.4 rebounds per game in the 1972–73 season.[1] Walk was traded to the then New Orleans Jazz, and subsequently traded to the New York Knicks, where he played for two seasons. Afterward, he went to play in Venice, Italy, then in Israel with Hapoel Ramat Gan, playing for the team for three seasons.[10][11]

Life after the NBA

In 1988, while Walk was living in Phoenix, Arizona, it was discovered that Walk had a benign tumor enveloping his spine.[12] Following surgery Walk was left in a wheelchair, from which he played wheelchair basketball for the L.A.-Phoenix Samaritans in the Southern California league of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.[8] In 1990 Walk was honored at the White House by U.S. President George H. W. Bush, as the "Wheelchair Athlete of The Year."

He later worked for the Phoenix Suns in the Community Affairs department.

Walk is featured in the Miami Beach Senior High School Hall of Fame, a "Gator Great" in the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame,[13] and was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.[1] He was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Bruce Weber (October 5, 2015), "Neal Walk, Who Rebounded Coast to Coast, Dies at 67", The New York Times 
  2. ^ The 100 Greatest Jews in Sports: Ranked According to Achievement - B. P. Robert Stephen Silverman
  3. ^ The Big Book of Jewish Sports Heroes: An Illustrated Compendium of Sports ... - Peter S. Horvitz
  4. ^ Day by Day in Jewish Sports History - Bob Wechsler
  5. ^ Sports | Legends | Nostalgia | History
  6. ^ a b c d "Former Florida Gators and NBA standout Neal Walk dies at 67" | Miami Herald
  7. ^ Norm Carlson Looks Back.. - Neal Walk - Florida Gators
  8. ^ a b AJHS honors state's Jewish athletes Archived 2011-06-09 at the Wayback Machine., January 5, 2001
  9. ^ Rosen, Charley (2017). The Chosen Game: A Jewish Basketball History. University of Nebraska Press. p. 141. 
  10. ^ All time scorers - Neal Walk (in Hebrew)
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Former Phoenix Suns center Neal Walk dies at 67
  13. ^ F Club, Hall of Fame, "Gator Greats". Retrieved December 13, 2014.

External links

  • Article at jewishaz.com
  • NBA Stats at databasebasketball.com
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