Friday, May 31, 2024

RIP Bill Walton

Bill Walton was mostly before my time in the worlds of college and pro basketball, but he was so much bigger than life that it was impossible not to feel his presence long after his playing days.

Memories of Walton for me were mostly when I was obsessed with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s and his playing days were winding down and he was starting anew as an NBA color commentator. He would always do hilariously weird things in his tie-die shirts like rubbing dirt all over his body, making casual references to how much he liked doing drugs, being part of the Grateful Dead culture, eating birthday cakes and cupcakes with the candles still lit, and bringing fun-hearted spiritual-hippie presents to his colleagues.

Walton, who passed away this week from cancer at age 71, was a winner. He won 49 straight games and two high-school championships in California. He won 88 straight games at UCLA and national championships in 1972 and 1973. He was picked first in 1974 by the Portland Trail Blazers. He was league MVP in 1978 and won championships with the Blazers in 1977 and Boston Celtics in 1986.

Also passing away this week was Amy Winslow, who was once the manager of my second-favorite band Guided by Voices. She also worked with Yoko Ono, Surfer Blood, Kiwi Jr., and helped launch the Rachel Maddow Show. The cause was breast cancer at age 59.

And Tony Scott, who played for six years through the end of the 1970s into the 1980s for the St. Louis Cardinals, passed away at age 72. He stole 87 bases during that period as the Cards' centerfielder. 

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