Monday, October 19, 2009


Sports? We generally don't cover it. Most of the time, the subject bores the hell out of us--and besides, in this game-obsessed culture it gets ample coverage elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, some of my best friend are sportsfans. I'll admit it's fun sometimes and strangely comforting to watch steroid-fueled action figures battling in a world where the rules are very, very clear--unlike our own. Go, team!

Growing up in Portland, there was one crazy cat you'd see at Grateful Dead concerts with a red ponytail and an old jacket he must have picked up at Sgt. Pepper's garage sale--and that was Bill Walton. Nowadays you may know this Deadhead as a blowhard jock sportscaster , but back then--as the celebrated center for the Portland Trail Blazers and crazy hippie--he was amazing. Red Hot and Rolling!

The Big Redhead came out of UCLA, where he won three straight College Player of the Year Awards, and was drafted number one overall by the Blazers, where he had an outstanding run (after a couple years marred by injury). He wore his hair long and got psyched for games listening to the Dead, and of course got razzed and bated with every patchouli-scented, granola-flavored, hippie stereotype known to square jockdom--but he delivered the goods and saved the franchise--especially in the 76/77 season under new coach Jack Ramsey. The Blazers were the Cinderella team. Walton was NBA Champion twice, MVP, NBA Finals MVP...The rest of his, la, la..we'll skip over and jump to 1993, when he was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

I'm a terrible sportsfan. Sure, I rooted for the Blazers back then--and defended Walton's non-conformist attitudes to the reactionaries in my extended family--but only became an avid Blazer fan when that miraculous Drexler/Porter/Buck/Duck/Kersey team took on the world. That was something. Still, kudos to long-haired hippie freak Bill Walton.

"Throw it down, big man! Throw it down!"

When giants ruled the Earth: 1977 NBA Finals Game 6: The Blazers, led by Walton, upset the heavily favored Dr. J and the Philadelphia 76ers

Read a funny interview with Walton on Oregon Sports Live.

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