Fascinated by Bill Walton, I watched the first two 30 for 30 episodes of “The Luckiest Guy In The World” Tuesday night. The final two chapters drop next Tuesday on ESPN.
Of course, there are times when he’s simply too much, doing color on a West Coast tilt with great straight man Dave Pasch. He’ll fly off to Twirlyland, jokingly diss his partner, spin off to an alternative universe, then return to the game offering observations, often insightful, often not.
I’ll either turn off the sound, or move on.
There are other times when he’s engrossing. Whether he’s chatting about the game, or the history of a nearby national forest.
Like him or leave him, he is every always a fascinating fellow.
Among other things, the series explains the why about his senior season at UCLA, which saw the end of an 88 game winning streak, and the school’s streak of NCAA titles.
I won’t ruin that back story, which I loved.
There’s a lot of stuff here — both personal and hoops — which might change your mind about Walton, whom you may consider insufferable.
As for me, I had a personal moment with him that I hold dear.
In ‘90 I was recovering from a severe leg injury, suffered when hit head on by a car while jogging. I had an external fixator apparatus on my left leg, and needed to use crutches. At a U of L game Walton was doing for TV, I was gingerly making my way down the steps to my seat, as he was walking up the aisle.
He stopped, asked me what happened, shared about all the leg injuries he’d had, and offered me words of encouragement.
It was most sweet.
* * * * *
There’s a recent article at theathletic.com about the phenomenon of Chucks.
Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes.
In my day, it’s all there was. We even made fun of guys who ventured into new territory to leather shoes that actually had some cushioning and support.
During my ‘69-’70 senior year in Law School, a bunch of us classmates played in a couple of leagues, one at the Y, one at a church in Southern Indiana. To little success, I feel compelled to add. Very little.
But I distinctly recall the night after a game my feet hurt so badly from wearing my low cut black Chucks I couldn’t sleep. Literally.
Never played in them again. Threw ‘em away eventually, because they were so uncomfortable I couldn’t even wear them when stylin’.
Years later, when the market became flooded with inserts, for support and arches, I bought another pair, figuring my preferred inserts would make them wearable.
Anyhow, Chucks remain arguably the coolest shoes extant, especially as a fashion statement. Despite how they feel for many. A lot of people wear them for weightlifting.
I get jealous.
Then my dogs start yelping, and advise, “Don’t even think about it.”
* * * * *
Got a report last night from Gym Eyes, who has seen a number of workouts by the extreme makeover squad Kenny Payne has remarkably assembled for his Year 2 retool.
I’m advised there’s a totally different vibe in the practice facility.
That the players are not only way more talented than last season, but motivated, energetic, hard working, good and attentive listeners to instruction, and willing to help their mates at every moment.
Trentyn Flowers has been, according to several accounts, the most impressive so far.
Though all show talent and a willingness to succeed together.
Then there’s that encouraging video of Peyton Siva working out with Skyy Clark.
Of course, it’s June. We’ll see what happens come November.
As for context, I noticed where several of last season’s squad ended up. Grand Canyon. Texas Arlington.
As for El Ellis at Arkansas and Jae’lyn Withers at Carolina, I offer this perspective.
In Seth Davis’s latest Way Too Early Top 25, both the Razorbacks and Tar Heels are considered. Neither of the former Cards gets a speck of ink, when the teams’ assets and transfer portal additions are broken down.
— c d kaplan