There was not a more underrated disappointing story this year than the retirement of Bill Walton. Well known his catchphrases, “Throw it down big man” and “That’s a turrible call. Turrrible,” and Grateful Dead references, Bill Walton was the most colorful and entertaining basketball commentator. I would watch random basketball games between 76ers and Bucks just to hear wonderful nuggets quoting Dalai Lama, John Fogerty, and John Wooden from the 7’0 basketball sage. He had the greatest pro athlete beard of the 70s, “But you have to understand, my beard is so nasty. I mean, it’s the only beard in the history of Western civilization that makes Bob Dylan’s beard look good.” And if that weren’t enough, check out this story from Larry Bird about Walton.
“After the Celtics won the 1986 championship, Walton sat alone in Bird’s kitchen drinking Wild Turkey until after the sun came up. I told Bird I didn’t believe the Walton story. Simply too good to be true.
“Yeah, it happened,’’ Bird said. “After we won, me and Dinah went out to K.C. Jones’s restaurant. He had a rib place. I had two beers. Remember how we stopped drinking that year?’’ – the ’86 Celtics swore off alcohol for their playoff run – “Well, I had two beers and they didn’t even taste good. I was tired, anyway, so I went home an hour later.
“Bill came over. It was late. Doorbell rang and Dinah answered and she was like, ‘Hey, Bill. Larry’s in bed.’ I heard him, so I go out and I said, ‘Hey, man I ain’t doing this tonight. I can’t.’ He goes, ‘Don’t worry about it. I don’t even need you. I’m just going to sit down here at the table.’ He had a bottle of whiskey. And he said, ‘I’ll be here when you wake up.’ And he was.
Bill Walton is simply the coolest man alive and I miss him he is no longer a consistent part of my life.