Jimmy Walker may have only played for the Houston Rockets for 84 total games, but he made an impact in the NBA overall over his nine-year career.
Coming off a hugely successful three seasons at Providence, Jimmy Walker was selected as the first overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 1967 NBA Draft. After five solid seasons in Detroit in which he made the All-Star team twice, Walker ended up on the Houston Rockets before the 1972-73 season.
In his first season with the Rockets, the 6-3 guard tallied averages of 18 points and 5.5 assists per game through 81 games played. Despite having a solid season, Walker was traded to the Kansas City-Omaha Kings three games into the following season.
Still, Walker made an impact on a Houston team that needed more talent at just about every position. He finished the season with 1,454 points scored, which was third on the team behind Rudy Tomjanovich and Jack Marin.
Jimmy was also one of the three Rockets that season that shot over 88 percent from the free-throw line that year at 88.4 percent.
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Walker retired after three more seasons in the NBA, all with Kansas City. When all was said and done, he finished with career averages of 16.7 points, 3.5 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game.
As many who have been following the NBA since the 1970s know, Walker was the biological father of former NBA player Jalen Rose. Their relationship, however, wasn’t exactly what one would hope for.
As ESPN writer Jerry Bembry discussed in detail in 2007, Rose never met his father, as Walker left the home after Jalen’s mother became pregnant with him. The two eventually were able to connect on the phone, but lung cancer tragically claimed the life of Walker just as Jalen was making travel plans to see him for the first time.
Since he made such an impact at Providence, their Most Valuable Player Award is now named after him and his handed out by the school annually.
On the day that Walker would have turned 76, we honor the life and career of James “Jimmy” Walker.