Buckwalter grew up in La Grande, Oregon, and played high school basketball at La Grande High School. Buckwalter played college basketball at Utah, where his team advanced to the quarterfinals of the 1956 NCAA basketball tournament before losing to eventual champion San Francisco.
While with the Stars, Buckwalter was known for signing Moses Malone out of high school. He was a scout for the Portland Trail Blazers when the team passed on Michael Jordan and selected Kentucky's Sam Bowie as the second pick in the 1984 NBA draft. He served as Vice-President of Basketball Operations for the Portland Trail Blazers. In 1991 he won the NBA Executive of the Year Award, as the Blazers posted a league-best 63-19 record. He retired from the Blazers in 1997.
- Baum, Bob (1997-09-07). "Blazers' Buckwalter Retires With Countless Tales To Tell and will be inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
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