Missed this bit of news from earlier this week. The Big Red is not coming back to WWL this season. From the AP wire:
"As I return after a grueling multi-year, life-threatening, life-changing ordeal with back problems, it is time to dedicate the rest of my life to service. It is great to be back in the game. Thanks everybody -- for everything."
Even the statement is vintage Walton, overtly congenial while explaining he’ll be dedicating his life to the somewhat amorphous ‘service’ yet not forgetting to mention his back problems were both ‘life-threatening’ and ‘life-changing’. First, obviously, you hope Walton gets and remains healthy, and can avoid the chronic injuries a man of his size undoubtedly gets stricken with throughout life, especially as he gets older.
Second, while Walton’s commentary during a basketball game is somewhat of an acquired taste – Walton, like many color analysts, often seemed more focused on being the game than commenting on it – there are few who can claim to be a better radio interview. Listening to Walton on the ESPN Radio shows ramble on about basketball and life and tremendousness and tales of transcendental journeys that always ended up with him on stage with Jerry Garcia ... well, in a way, I’ll miss those, tremendously. And this statement is not to say that Walton is going away forever. Heck, without the rigors of the NBA season, he’d have more time for interviews or podcasting on his own or whatever road by which his life twists.
There is also a piece on the Big Red in the NY Post that is worth reading.
I have met the Big Red multiple times over the years. Got his autograph couple of times during my student days when he used to broadcast UCLA games for Prime Ticket. I went down to his broadcasting table right before the game from the student section (now the Den) and asked for his John Hancock and he would sign it and say hello with graciousness worthy of a classic disciple of Coach Wooden.
My favorite memory of the Big Red though was running into him at the Copley Mall in Boston about two days after UCLA had lost to Detroit Mercy back in 99. I think Walton was in town for a Celtics game. When I went up to him and said hello and introduced myself as a Bruin alum he just yelled out to, "can you believe about our Bruins?!! That was disgraceful!" It was EPIC.
The Big Red is of course always epic whenever he is talking about our Bruins:
Gotta (Kevin) Love Bill Walton (via bbtre13)
I hope we get to hear from him time to time chiming in on our Ben Ball warriors. He will always be with us. For now, I will just end with the following lines from his favorite band:
You're sick of hangin' around and you'd like to travel;
Get tired of travelin' and you want to settle down.
I guess they can't revoke your soul for tryin',
Get out of the door and light out and look all around.
Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me, What a long, strange trip it's been.
Truckin', I'm a goin' home. Whoa whoa baby, back where I belong,
Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin' on.
What ever he does next, he will always be truckin' on with the spirit of Bruin Nation.
We love you Bill.