Remembering Chet the Jet

by Marc Narducci | Jun 14, 2024
Remembering Chet the Jet
 Chet Walker was a Hall of Fame basketball player who was actually underrated. He enjoyed a stellar career for two teams, spending the first half of his 14-year NBA career with the Syracuse Nationals/76ers and the final seven years with the Chicago Bulls. 

The passing of Walker on Saturday at the age of 84, is a major loss to both organizations, the basketball community and beyond. 

First off, he had one of the great nicknames–Chet the Jet. 

In addition, when recalling his time with the Sixers, he was part of one of the top teams in NBA history. That would be the 1966-67 Sixers squad that won the NBA championship.

That team was voted the best in NBA history during the NBA’s 35th anniversary. 

Even today, with so many great teams since then, that Sixers squad should be in the conversation for all-time best.

Yes, the game was different back then, long before the three-point shot was introduced, but that Sixers team was something special. Consider that Walker was inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 and he was the third-leading scorer on that team.

Wilt Chamberlain, who averaged 24.1 points and 24.2 rebounds, was the leading scorer. Fellow Hall of Famer Hal Greer averaged 22.1 points.

Then came Walker who averaged 19.3 points and 8.1 rebounds.

The other starters were guard Wali Jones (13.2 ppg.) and power forward Luke Jackson (12.0 ppg., 8.9 rpg).

The sixth man was yet another Naismith Hall of Famer, Billy Cunningham, who averaged 18.5 points.

In the playoffs that season, Walker averaged 21.3 points and that was third on the team behind Cunningham (23.9) and Greer (21.8). Chamberlain averaged 16.3 points and 21.9 rebounds.

The Sixers went 68-13 in the regular season. They beat the Cincinnati Royals, 3-games-to-1 in the first round and then eliminated the rival Boston Celtics, 4-1 in the Eastern Conference finals before defeating the San Francisco Warriors 4-2 in the finals.

In the clincher, a 125-122 road win, Walker scored 20 points, third on the team behind Jones (27) and Chamberlain (24). 

One reason Walker was underrated was because he played with other great players, but he more than held his own.

He was a three-time All-Star with the Sixers. Walker played his first year with the Syracuse Nationals, which then moved to Philadelphia before the 1963-64 season. 

Walker was also a four-time All-Star with the Chicago Bulls. He teamed with Bob Love to form one of the top forward combinations during their time together in the NBA.

Walker was so talented that even in his 14th and final NBA season, he averaged 19.2 points and finished 16th in the MVP voting. 

He could best be described as consistently great, averaging double-figures in scoring in each of his 14 seasons. Walker finished with career averages of 18.2 points per game and 7.1 rebounds. 

How consistent was he?

Walker had nearly identical playoff statistics. He averaged 18.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in 105 playoff games. 

As with many players in his day, he was truly durable. Walker never played fewer than 76 games and he played in 80 or more games six times. 

He was so smooth with that corner jump shot and somebody who had a major impact on winning. He participated in the playoffs 13 of his 14 seasons. 

Walker was a big part of Philadelphia sports history and those who got to see him play were truly fortunate to see such a professional in action.  

Photo Courtesy of 76ers X/Twitter

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Author: Marc Narducci

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