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Chet Walker, N.B.A. Champion and Movie Producer, Dies at 84


Chet Walker, N.B.A. Champion and Movie Producer, Dies at 84

Walker scored just 10 points in Game 6, though, and he was hospitalized after the Bulls lost Game 7 in Oakland, Calif., with the recurrence of a kidney infection that would later cause scarring and require ongoing medication.

In the 2022 interview, Williams said he still regularly heard from Walker, adding: “One thing that eats at him is why the Bulls never retired his number, 25. He’ll say, ‘You and I helped save basketball in Chicago.’ And they did retire Bob Love’s number and Jerry Sloan’s, so why wouldn’t they retire Chet’s?”

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

Experiencing integration for the first time, Walker starred 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 by the Syracuse Nationals in the second round, made the N.B.A.’s All-Rookie team and moved to Philadelphia with the franchise 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 the producer Zev Braun, a neighbor in Chicago. Braun was executive producer of Walker’s debut 1979 production, “Freedom Road,” a television mini-series about a former slave who rose to the United States Senate during Reconstruction. The series, based on a 1944 novel by Howard Fast, starred Muhammad Ali and Kris Kristofferson.

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