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NBA Finals: Celtics honor Bill Walton with tie-dye pins ahead of Game 1 vs. Mavericks

The Boston Celtics honored longtime center and former ESPN analyst Bill Walton on Thursday night as they kicked off the NBA Finals.

The Celtics handed out small tie-dye pins with Walton's name on them to fans entering TD Garden for Game 1 of their NBA Finals series against the Dallas Mavericks, which made for the perfect tribute for their former player and the iconic announcer after his death late last month.

Walton died last month after battling cancer in recent years. He was 71.

Walton, who won two Player of the Year awards and two national titles at UCLA, played in the league from 1974-1988. He finished his NBA career with the Celtics, and spent two seasons in Boston before he eventually retired after the 1988 campaign. He won a title with the organization in 1986, when he was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year. He averaged 7.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in nearly 20 minutes per contest during their championship run, which came nearly a decade after he won MVP honors with the Portland Trail Blazers. Walton was on the roster the following season when the Celtics made it back to the Finals, too.

Since his death, there has been an outpouring of celebration and tributes from in and around the sports world. Indiana Pacers coach and former Celtics guard Rick Carlisle has spoken out repeatedly about his friend, and even told a great story about how Walton set him up on a first date with his now wife at a Grateful Dead concert. Walton, who was unlike anybody else on the mic for ESPN, was a huge fan of the band and even received a tribute from Dead & Company at a concert last week.

The Celtics have won just a single championship — during the 2007-08 season with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen — since they won with Walton. If they can get past Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks, who are playing in their first Finals since they last won in 2011, it will mark the 18th title in Celtics franchise history.

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