HomeSportsBill Walton the broadcaster and some of his most memorable moments on...

Bill Walton the broadcaster and some of his most memorable moments on the microphone

Bill Walton was a perfect fit for ESPN’s annual coverage of the Maui Invitational and the loose atmosphere. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Bill Walton was a legend on the court, a Hall of Famer, MVP and two-time champion at both UCLA and the NBA.

He truly had no equal on the microphone. In a decades-long post-playing career as a broadcast analyst, Walton was rarely focused or even on the subject. But he was never to be forgotten. He was never boring. And he was never uninspired.

As the basketball world and beyond celebrate Walton following the news of his death on Monday at the age of 71, there are countless clips and moments to highlight Walton’s incomparable style, which blended poetry, music, stream of consciousness and his inimitable free spirit. heterosexual style. basketball analysis. Let’s take a look back at some of his most memorable.

ESPN’s Dana Jacobson got the full Walton experience as host of “Cold Pizza” in 2006 when she asked Walton to preview an early-season game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns. To start the segment, Jacobson asked Walton a simple question about Suns All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire during his opening night performance against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Jacobson: “How did he look at you?”

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Walton responded as only Walton could.

“Dana, from the valley of the sun I sit high above the desert floor, the red streaks of dawn lighting up this glorious sky. I’m here watching ‘Desert Solitude’ by Edward Abbey, and on opening day the songs just flow through this smoking crater. I listened to Bob Dylan’s latest album “Modern Times”, which is absolutely remarkable.

“’Thunder on the Mountain,’ ‘Spirit on the Water,’ ‘Rollin and Tumblin,’ all describing Amar’e Stoudemire.”

Skilled ESPN producers – at that point adept at navigating Walton’s rhythms and idiosyncrasies – took the opportunity of Walton saying Stoudemire’s name to change the subject on screen back to the subject at hand.

As Stoudemire’s highlights took over the screen, Walton took the opportunity to continue referencing his one passion that might have surpassed his love for basketball: music.

“But the songs I can’t get out of my head today: John Fogerty’s ‘Center Field’, got me going, coach; I’m ready to play today. Or Bob Dylan’s ‘New Morning’.” And Dana, like you, I am so happy to be alive under this blue sky on this new morning, new morning. What could be better than opening day?”

Only then – 45 seconds after Jacobson asked him about Stoudemire – did Walton dig into the question at hand. The transition was seamless.

And if Amar’e Stoudemire and the rest of the Phoenix Suns’ front court don’t start playing much better basketball than they did last night against the Lakers, where the Lakers pounded them on the boards, they had control of the paint inside. And Boris Diaw, my second favorite player in the league, an absolute no-show of a performance – saddled with foul trouble.

“Sean Marion becomes the fifth player in Phoenix Suns history to score more than 10,000 points. Kurt Thomas did well. But this is a mental and emotional game, Dana.”

Walton’s monologue about Stoudemire and what ails the Suns lasted about two more minutes before he concluded his part of the segment by quoting Fogerty again, this time in song.

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today,” Walton sang to Jacobson.

It was typical Bill Walton – a single question followed by a few moments of occasionally on-topic free form alongside a broadcast straight man – or straight woman in this case – sitting back and letting Walton do his thing.

Perhaps no one played Walton’s foil better than play-by-play announcer Dave Pasch, who regularly accompanied Walton on ESPN’s college basketball broadcasts. But anyone who shared a broadcast with Walton knew they were in for a ride like no other.

RIP to a true one-of-a-kind:

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