Chet “The Jet” lands in the Hall of Fame

Bradley and NBA great CHET WALKER ’62 makes his induction speech during ceremonies at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Watching him is fellow Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, who was among those presenting Walker.

Online

Watch Walker’s induction speech at the Naismith Hall of Fame at bradley.edu/go/ht-chetspeech.

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Bradley standout and NBA star CHET “THE JET” WALKER ’62 came in for a landing on September 7 at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. 

“It’s great; it’s wonderful. It’s something I’ve always looked forward to, but it just took me a long time to get here,” said Walker, who led Bradley to the 1960 NIT title and enjoyed a 13-year NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls. 

Walker led Bradley to a 69-14 record and back-to-back NIT appearances during his three varsity seasons on the Hilltop. He was a unanimous first-team All-American in 1962 and a three-time selection as first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference. He still ranks fourth in Bradley record books for scoring and shooting percentage and second in rebounds and points-per-game. He also holds the school record for double-doubles (points and rebounds in a game). 

“We had a great team and great players,” Walker said about his time on the Hilltop. “It was a small, intimate school that I liked because you can get special attention in those kinds of schools. And I had good college coaching with JOE STOWELL ’50 MA ’56 and CHUCK ORSBORN ’39 MS ’51. So most of my life I’ve had good coaches, and that is extremely important.” 

After graduation, Walker was an all-rookie selection in 1963 and seven-time NBA all-star. He missed just 21 games in his pro career and was a member of one of the greatest teams in NBA history — the 1967 Philadelphia squad. That team featured such notables as Billy Cunningham and Wilt Chamberlain. Cunningham joined fellow Hall of Famers Earl Monroe, Adrian Dantley, and Isiah Thomas in presenting Walker at the induction ceremonies. Only 313 people or teams have been enshrined in the Naismith Hall since 1959.

“Bradley followers have recalled for decades the impact Chet Walker had on Bradley basketball and the Peoria area,” said Bradley President Joanne Glasser, who attended the induction. “Being enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame confirms his status as one of the all-time greats in the history of the game.” 

After his NBA career, Walker went into the entertainment industry, becoming a film and television producer. He won an Emmy Award as co-producer of A Mother’s Courage: The Mary Thomas Story, a made-for-TV movie about Isiah Thomas’ mother. 

– Bob Grimson ’81