Bill Walton once had a stuttering problem so debilitating that he could barely get out the words “thank you.”

Today the basketball legend is a talking machine — whether offering insights on the NBA or delivering inspiring, humorous public speeches. And one of his next appearances will be talking to the pool and spa industry.

Walton will give the keynote address at the 2008 International Pool|Spa|Patio Expo, slated for Nov. 18-20 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. The hour-long speech, titled “Nothing But Net,” tips off at 10 a.m., Nov. 18.

Hanley Wood Exhibitions, a division of Hanley Wood, LLC, which runs the Expo and owns this magazine, was looking for a celebrity draw whose life story would have an impact on the men and women in the pool & spa industry.

“What we had found with the demographics of the attendees at our event is that motivation is a huge need, especially this year with the challenges in the industry,” said Tracy Beaulieu, conference manager of the Expo. “Bill Walton is a great symbol of achievement: a man who has worked through trials and tribulations.”

Walton was one of the most dominant players in NCAA history, anchoring legendary UCLA coach John Wooden’s national champion-ship teams in 1972 and 1973. Walton helped UCLA set an NCAA record 88 con-secutive game-winning streak, and earned three straight NCAA Player of the Year awards.

A two-time NBA champion and one-time league Most Valuable Player, Walton entered the national Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. He also was named to the list of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.

The keynote address is included free in all registration packages for the International Pool|Spa|Patio Expo, the industry’s biggest annual event featuring 83 seminars, hundreds of product displays and many networking opportunities.

Walton now arguably makes as big a mark with his mouth as he did on the court. The outspoken commentator won an Emmy in 2001 for best live sports TV broadcast for his coverage of the NBA.

A free spirit who overcame his stuttering problem at age 28, Walton annually gives dozens of speeches around the country and co-wrote a number of books.

He lives in San Diego and has four sons, including Luke, a forward for the Los Angeles Lakers.

To register for the Expo, visit, or call 1-888-869-8522.

Fun Facts about Bill Walton

  • “The Big Red Head” also is a big “Dead Head.” Walton was named an inaugural member of the band’s Grateful Dead Hall of Honor in 2001 and calls it one of his proudest moments.
  • Earned Academic All-America honors at UCLA three times, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history; studied law at Stanford University.
  • Arrested during an anti-Vietnam War rally at UCLA.
  • Wore No. 32 for his entire college and pro career, except when he signed as a free agent with the Boston Celtics in 1985. Walton had to wear No. 5 because No. 32 was taken by Celtic star Kevin McHale, a fellow future Hall of Famer.
  • Attempted five three-pointers in a pro career spanning 10 active seasons and 517 games. He made none of them.
  • Claims two of the biggest influences in his life are legendary UCLA coach John Wooden and the late Grateful Dead singer Jerry Garcia.
  • Won an Emmy in 1979 for his work on an environmental documentary filmed on location in the Philippines.