Where Are They Now? - Bill Walton
Where Are They Now? - Bill Walton
If you look at page 178 of the 2003-04 Boston Celtics Media Guide, you will find the name of Bill Walton tucked-in between Mike Wallace and Gerry Ward. Wallace played in the 1946-47 season and Ward in the 64-65 championship season. Bill Walton played just two seasons for the Green and White, 1985-86 and 1986-87 (leading them to the world championship in 1986), but has impact and popularity has filled many seasons since his playing days concluded.
One of the greatest centers to play the game of basketball, Walton has remained busy by announcing games in the NBA and being involved with the NBA on many off-court promotions and publicity efforts.
Recently at a Celtics game, Celtics.com's Jeff Twiss sat down with the Hall of Famer to get his thoughts on life, basketball and the future.
What keeps Bill Walton busy presently?
Walton: "I don't do much these days as my life has been in a devastating, downward spiral since leaving the Celtics 18 years ago. I mostly just sit around waiting by the phone with the hope that one day Red will return my calls and give me my career and life back. While waiting patiently for Red for all these years now, I occasionally get a few things done like broadcasting over 110 live TV events a year, traveling well over 600,000 miles a year as a public speaker on the corporate and charity circuits, writing books and articles, doing promotional work for the NBA, ESPN, ABC and their corporate sponsors and partners, learning how to play the piano, working in the garden, riding my bike, taking care of my parents who just celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary in the same house for 51 years (I live just 10 minutes down the road), enjoying the adult lives of our four sons and serving as my wife, Lori's, house boy. Please, if you see or hear from Red - ask him to call quickly, the boredom and all this free time is killing me."
Was broadcasting something that you always wanted to do?
Walton: "All I ever wanted in life was to be a Boston Celtic. Everything else that I ever tried has been terribly depressing and a major disappointment."
What is your favorite Celtics memory?
Walton: "On the court, the coolest aspect of being a part of the Boston Celtics was serving as Larry Bird's valet. The only things that even come close were rebounding for all the guys and guarding their men when they didn't want to run back on defense. Off the court, it was great to learn that the only thing that Ronald Regan ever said that I previously believed to be the truth - 'That if the Pilgrims had landed in California the East Coast would still be a wilderness' - turned out to be just another bald-faced lie."
What did you learn by being with the Boston Celtics?
Walton: "Being on the Boston Celtics taught me all the positive aspects of life. The people of Boston and the Celtics brought back the joy, happiness, hope and optimism to my life. The best part of life is being part of something special...When I was a young boy in San Diego (the heart of Laker Country), I always wanted to be a Celtic. Bill Russell was my hero, role model and idol. And even though I'm adamantly opposed to smoking of all kinds, when Red lit up that victory cigar there I was, little Billy Walton, with his red hair, his freckles, his big nose, his goofy/nerdy looks and his speech impediment, jumping up and down yelling, "Go Celtics Go." There is nothing on earth like the dreams of a young boy coming true. I got to sit on the bench and wear a Celtic uniform. What could be better than that?"
Your thoughts on the game of basketball/the NBA today?
Walton: "The game has never been in better shape.Today's players are beyond comprehension in all aspects. I watch every night and marvel at what these remarkable athletes, personalities and teams are able to achieve on a daily basis. I know that jealousy is a bad thing but I can't help it. These guys are incredible and I love this game."
Any changes or suggestions that you would like to see happen with the game or the league?
Walton: "Basketball is really the perfect game, played by the world's greatest athletes. The best parts of the game for me are the mental and emotional challenges and competition that enable everybody to be involved. What I love so much about the game itself, is that you never have to wait for anything, other than the opening tip. The rest is up to you."
What is in Bill Walton's future plans?
Walton: "The Future? What is that? Life as I knew it came to an end in 1986, when I could no longer play for my beloved Boston Celtics. Life as a Celtic was so special that I have spent every moment since chasing the dream of once again being part of something that wonderful. I have been a miserable failure, a disgrace really. But I'm still waiting by that phone, hoping beyond hope that Red will someday remember my name and number."