Happy Birthday Bill Walton

Thought I’d take a moment today to celebrate Bill Walton‘s birthday. As a player, Walton was arguably the second or third greatest college player of the modern era. He played three years at UCLA, and won the Naismith Award, along with first-team All-American honors and Player of the Year honors from the AP, Sporting News, UPI, USBWA in all three years.

His Bruins won two national titles during his career and finished third in 73-74.

Walton was drafted #1 overall by Portland in 1974, but struggled with injuries for his first couple years. When he was healthy, he led Portland past the Sixers to win the NBA title in 1977. He would win one more with the Celtics with 1986 and retire after the following season.

However, my experience with Walton wouldn’t come until much later, as he became a commentator for NBC Sports. Walton had a gift for provided amazingly exaggerated praise (and amazingly exaggerated criticism) to players as a means of attempting to heighten the drama of the game being played. Here are some of my favorites:

“Show some respect to this living legend, this hall of famer…Arvydas Sabonis.”

“If Eric Piatkowski continues playing at this level, he’s going to replace Jerry West on the NBA logo.”

“Yesterday we celebrated Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity, today, Fabricio Oberto is defying it.”

Bill Walton: “John Stockton is one of the true marvels, not just of basketball, or in America, but in the history of Western Civilization!” Tom Hammond:  “Wow, that’s a pretty strong statement. I guess I don’t have a good handle on world history.” Bill: “Well Tom, that’s because you didn’t go to UCLA.”

“You look at Vladimir Radmanovic, this guy is cut from stone. As if Michelangelo was reading and a lightning bolt flashed before him.”

On his love of Boris Diaw:

Ray Allen is a musician of the court

“Tracy McGrady is doing things we’ve never seen from anybody – from any planet!”

“Cuttino Mobley has just made the two worst shot attempts in the history of this proud Houston Rockets franchise.”

“Come on, that was no foul! It may be a violation of all the basic rules of human decency, but it’s not a foul.”

This, however, may be my all time favorite:

Walton: “That has to be a foul.”  Snapper: “Against who?”  Walton: “Against the game of basketball.”

Happy Birthday Bill. I’ll play some Grateful Dead today in your honor.

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~ by djepperson on November 5, 2010.

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