The Annotated Bill Walton: Another Stanford Collapse EditionPosted by Brendan Brody on February 13th, 2014
We’re back, this time in Seattle, and Bill Walton and broadcasting straight-man Dave Pasch covered Stanford somehow finding a way to let Washington win in Seattle on Wednesday night. Things are a bit abbreviated in this edition, as the Syracuse/Pitt game prior to leaked into the start of this game. But let’s set the mood with the Grateful Dead’s sole performance at the Hec Edmundson Pavilion at the University of Washington on May 21, 1974. “Ship of Fools” is a fine place to start. The “Weather Report Suite” is mighty fine too, but if you want to just cut to the chase, jump ahead to “Playin’ in the Band,” the song that makes this show famous among Deadheads. You see, this epic meltdown checks in as the longest Playin’ – a Dead staple for, what, 24 years? – on the books at better than 46 minutes!
Intro – On Syracuse: “Syracuse. Congratulations. Just doing so many wonderful things for this great game of college basketball, including keeping us all believing in what a team is all about. And they have so many weapons Syracuse and tonight they fought back against a really good Pittsburgh team. That was great.”
12:50 – “Don’t diss Harvard. They’ve got a $35 billion dollar endowment – which is less than Bill Gates’ personal net worth.”
Comment: Let’s not even bother to check this figures. Once you’re talking –illions with something besides an “m” in front, it may as well be imaginary.
12:38 – “John Gage, who’s from this area. He’s from Vashon Island just out in the middle of Puget Sound there, he takes the ferry back and forth all the time. Johnny Dawkins asked him to speak today here at practice because this is the last time he’s ever going to play a college basketball game in this city, which is basically his home town. His mom is here, his dad is here, his grandmother, his grandfather. His mom went to the University of Washington, right here. She’s a Husky, but it’s all about the blood.”
Comment: Walton’s love for meeting and talking about the players’ families has become a theme of the season.
11:44 – “This is the best stretch of basketball I’ve ever seen Desmond Simmons play. Ever. Dominant on the boards, setting screens, pulling it all together. Right now, the Huskies trying to wrap the trees in the Purple Haze of the Seattle brilliance.”
Comment: Sure, that last sentence there doesn’t even begin to make sense.
11:34 – Referring to Seattle: “Great to be back in the sporting capital of the world. Oh my goodness. Forget Tobacco Road. We’ve got the good stuff right here in Seattle.”
Comment: Hahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahaha. Hahahaha. Haha. Ha. Man, that’s a great line.
10: 12 – After Dave Pasch whined about having to do three games in three nights. “Three games, come on. I did 32 straight once.”
Comment: Was it 30 games? Or 32? Facts are stupid things, especially after that previous quote. But Walton did some ridiculous amount of games over the span of a month back in 2002.
8:11 – On Shawn Kemp Jr.’s diagnosis with Graves’ disease: “When the disease that you have is called “Graves”, that’s not good.”
6:37 – Walton’s World: “Basketball has everything to do with every thing. Bill Russell. Happy Birthday. Born in West Monroe, Louisiana, part of the great migration, told so beautifully in “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson. He goes to the only school that offers him a scholarship (University of San Francisco); he plays in the Olympics down in Melbourne, 1956. And in a very short period of time, 14 months, he won an NCAA Championship, an Olympic gold medal, and his first of 11 NBA Championships. Five-time MVP; twelve-time all-star; only three times in his career first-team All-NBA center – Wilt getting most of those awards. Bill Russell, who was in the front row of the crowd at Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, was asked to be on stage, but he turned them down, saying ‘You guys have done the work, I’m just here to support you.’ Bill Russell, who in 1963, called down to Medgar Evers’ family after Medgar was assassinated down in Jackson, Mississippi. He went down there and put on a multiracial basketball clinic – they had to protect him with the Deacons for Defense there. And today we celebrate Bill’s 80th birthday.”
4:00 – “Best I’ve ever seen Perris Blackwell play live.” Pasch brings us down to earth with a “You’ve never seen him play live.” And Walton calmly retorts: “Both of those statements are true.”
2:41 – As Bill Russell said: ‘The only stat that matters is who won the game.”
2:38 – “This Stanford/Washington rivalry is fantastic. You’ve got Apple and Google vs. Microsoft. You’ve got Magellan and Sir Francis Drake vs. Lewis and Clark. You’ve got Levi’s vs. Nordstrom. You’ve got eBay vs. Amazon. Jerry Garcia vs. Jimi Hendrix. Owsley and Boeing. Grateful Dead and Pearl Jam. Joan Baez, Queen Anne. Golden Gate Bridge and the Space Needle. Netflix and Xbox. Safeway and Costco. The Jacks, Kerouac and London. And you’ve got the Marin Headlands and Point Reyes and Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier. We’ve got a rivalry. Let’s go.”
Comment: I just want to pull one of these comparisons out of here to talk about: Owsley vs. Boeing. At least that’s the way I heard it. Owsley was pretty clear. Who’s Owsley? With no apologies to some marketing campaign for a below-average beer, Augustus “Owsley” Stanley may well have been the most interesting man in the world. Grandson of a U.S. Sentator, he was most famous as a proficient maker of high-grade LSD in the mid- to late-60s (check Steely Dan’s Kid Charlemagne for a fictionalized account of Owsley’s legend), but he was also an audio engineer who had a big hand in major advancements in the field of high-quality large-scale sound systems. And that compound sentence barely scratches the surface. Maybe somebody is already on the gig, but the first person to come up with a well-researched and comprehensive biography on Owsley is sitting on a heck of a book. But, none of that is my point here. Walton, comparing LSD chemist Owsley to William Boeing, founder of famed aerospace company Boeing in an off-handed throw-away line in the middle of a larger rant? Pure comedy gold.
1:25 – On their upcoming visit to Arizona: “Where the Sonoran Desert meets the Mogollon Rim.”
Comment: Basketball: of course. 1960’s history: considered standard. History lessons: par for the course. But Walton’s quick geographical nods are fun too. Mogollon Rim, eh? That’s a new one for me. And I, apparently, love the Mogollon Rim.
0:54 – Seemingly time for non sequitur theatre: “I’d rather walk alone that be in a crowd headed in the wrong direction.”
Comment: Pasch responds with: “I’m not sure what that has to do with, well, anything.”
0:25 – Walton explains himself: “So while we’ve got a minute, I want to take issue with you and the decision to not go to Harvard. Now come on, it was Johnny Dawkins there in the middle of that huddle right there who made his decision growing up in the Washington D.C. area as the first high school All-American player to go and play for Mike Krzyzewski. He saw something before aanybody else did – that’s the kind of visionary that Johnny is. And it was Coach K’s third year, wasn’t successful in the beginning. And by his senior year, they were in the championship game in 1986 where they lost to Louisville with Denny Crum – the Hall of Famer – and Pervis Ellison. And he teamed with Tommy Amaker there at Duke who is now the coach at Harvard. And the Simple Twist of Fate, you never know how it is going to play out. And that’s why you chase your dream, instead of following the crowd going in the wrong direction.”
Intro – “Your color television set was invented right here at the University of Washington, 1927, Willard Geer. So be appreciative, be thankful that every time that wheel goes ‘round, you’re bound to cover just a little more ground.”
Comment: Geer did indeed graduate from the University of Washington in 1927. But his breakthrough with color television didn’t come until the 40s when he was a professor at another Pac-12 school, the University of Southern California. Geer filed for his patent, now known as the Geer tube, in 1944, the first holder of a patent for color television. Geer was later sued by RCA, who filed a similar patent a month after Geer, but RCA lost and wound up paying Geer $15,000 for his troubles.
18:52 – After Pasch spent like 30 seconds talking about Duke/Carolina: “You’re into that Tobacco Road stuff. I’m with CVS.”
18:24 – “Did you happen to catch the announcement that they’re going to upgrade Rupp Arena. $300 million. Good to see that there’s still a little bit of money there.”
Comment: There are so many ways this comment can be taken at more than face value.
18:15 – “Did you also see that announcement out of Michigan State today, about the round-robin tournament they’re going to have with Texas and North Carolina (and, Florida)? That’s going to be fantastic. The future of college basketball.”
Comment: Mark Hollis is awesome.
17:38 – “Colorado is back to playing well. Tad Boyle has got them believing again. Askia Booker is just on fire and we’re going to see them tomorrow night at UCLA.”
Comment: For what it’s worth, no Annotated Walton tomorrow night, as I’ll be at the UCLA game. But we’ll see if I can get a minute or two with Walton pre-game.
17:01 – As Washington takes the lead: “What a shocking turn of events. Lorenzo Romar, coach of the year with this turnaround. A thing of beauty for the Huskies.”
Comment: Master of sarcasm.
16:23 – “After a disappointing year a season ago, Lorenzo Romar has changed a whole lot of stuff. He’s brought in two new assistants: one from Iowa State, one from Villanova – both terrific programs there. He’s got a new strength and conditioning coach, Danny Shapiro, a lifelong guy in the world of basketball, he did a great job for years with the Sacramento Kings for years. They’ve got a new SID, they got a new analytics guy. It’s all turning around here for Lorenzo.”
Comment: Everything’s coming up Milhouse!
13:54 – Following Walton repeating his comment that Seattle is the “center of the sporting world,” Pasch asks him if he knows the only team that’s won in Seattle the last two years. Walton replies: “In what sport?” Pasch replies: “Seahawks. NFL.” Walton: “Okay, that’s football, right?” Pasch gives away the answer, the Cardinals. To which Walton replies: “Stanford Cardinal? They won here against the Seahawks? Now I’d like to see that game.”
Comment: Things don’t have to make a lick of sense to be entertaining.
13:27 – “How cool for Washington. They’ve got two guys on their team – Nigel (Williams-Goss) and C.J. (Wilcox) – who are from Happy Valley and Pleasant Grove.”
10:27 – Walton talking about Nigel Williams-Goss and his time at Findlay Prep: “This guy, at Findlay Prep, he played with some of the legends, Nigel did: Nick Johnson; Brandon Ashley: Anthony Bennett, now turning it on for the Cavaliers in the NBA as their #1 pick overall; Cory Joseph. You know who the coach there is now? The Junkyard Dog. Jerome. Jerome from Georgetown.”
Comment: Ok, couple things here. First, Anthony Bennett. For those of you who pay no mind to the NBA, it indeed took him some time to get adjusted, but yes, he is turning it on a bit in the NBA, with four double-digit performances in his last nine games, including a 19-point, ten-rebound effort earlier this week against Sacramento. Second, the Junkyard Dog is Jerome Williams, who graduated from Georgetown in 1996 and then went on to play a decade in the NBA. He’s eventually became the “Director of Player Development” (the fact that a school that is nominally a high school has a “Director of Player Development” is a whole different topic for a different time) at Findlay Prep, before being promoted to the head seat last summer.
8:45 – “Look at the history of this incredible conference, and all the great coaches from Wooden and Newell and Tex Winter and Bill Sharman and Alex Hannum and even the surrounding ones in Jerry Tarkanian and Jack Gardner and Stan Watts up at BYU. Those guys were team builders, they were program builders. They made this sport what it is. And now with every bit of emphasis on the money as opposed to the product, there has to be a refocus and a redirection of getting guys to learn how to play.”
Comment: For what it’s worth, while Bill Sharman played at USC, he never actually coached in this conference. Unless I’m missing something. Which wouldn’t be the first time.
8:20 – “It’s always amazed me why the University of Washington here in Seattle, why Arizona State in Phoenix, were not better athletic programs top to bottom. Fabulous cities; big cities; great recruiting bases; so much to offer; so much to sell.”
Comment: Certainly agree about Washington, especially in terms of their basketball program in recent years where they’ve missed out on many high profile recruits from the Pacific Northwest (Peyton Siva, Terrence Jones, Kyle Wiltjer, Enes Kanter, Terrence Williams). But Arizona State? There are not a ton of great recruits coming out of Arizona. And for the most part, if there are elite in-state recruits, that behemoth in Tucson is going to get first dibs.
7:55 – “The national anthem tonight, provided to us by Caspian Coberly, an awesome guitar (he actually said piano, but we’ll take the opportunity to edit him) player in a city that has produced so many great ones, including Jimi Hendrix. The Purple Haze on a glorious day in the Pacific Northwest. Excuse me, while I kiss the sky. Jimi Hendrix. I got to see him a number of times.” Pasch: “Does it surprise you that at one time I had like 300 Jimi Hendrix CDs. Does that surprise you?” Walton: “The only thing that would be surprising is the way it all played out for you, but with Jimi Hendrix being such a seminal figure in so much of our lives, with the trio concept that was brought into the world of rock music by Cream. And Jimi had his drummer and he had his bass player and it was him. And it was absolutely incredible.”
Comment: Wait. Pasch had 300 Jimi Hendrix CDs? Are there 300 Jimi Hendrix CDs in existence? Or was it just 300 copies of Are You Experienced? Seriously, while we’ll take Walton’s claim that he got to see Hendrix “a couple of times” at face value, even though Walton wasn’t yet 18 when Hendrix died (maybe he saw him May 24, 1969 in San Diego?), the idea that Pasch had 300 Hendrix CDs at one point – and for some reason does not anymore – stretches the bounds of credulity. There are three official studio albums. Three more live albums which we’ll count as Hendrix albums (even this is stretching it, as things like Woodstock and Monterey Pop can’t really be considered Hendrix albums). And then a crapload of posthumous Hendrix-family-cash-grab releases. And, let’s say, of the approximately 100 existing circulating bootlegs of Hendrix concers, Pasch had every single one. He’s still about 100 discs short of his claim. So he at some point had some hundred discs of lost Hendrix recordings and then for some reason lost them or got rid of them? Pasch, come on bro, leave the wild exaggerations and ridiculous hyperbole to the master. Plus, if you’re just gonna make stuff up, go big! Don’t tell us you have a couple hundred more Hendrix CDs (okay, a couple hundred and ninety-seven more) than you really had; tell us about the time you and Hendrix got drunk and played strip-Parcheesi with Khrushchev, Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol.
5:48 – “Let’s go back to talk about how you get good, and how you chase it down. You go back to the story about the Jimmy V foundation and all the money that was raised and health. And that leads to Bill Gates who has just been giving away so much money to make the health happen. Bill Gates, who grew up here, who when he was 16 years old used to sneak into the computer labs here on this campus and spend all night long unbeknownst to his parents or anybody else, working on his programs, building the foundational skills to make it happen. Bill Gates will also be Stanford’s commencement speaker on June 15th this year. It all rolls into one.”
4:23 – “Nastic down low, the whirling dervish, look to the baseline, give a little hitch and then just spin perfectly, the exquisite release. It’s like water just coming down the slopes of the Olympic Mountains. Did you see those today from the hotel?” Pasch: “Yes. And when I did, I thought of Stefan Nastic.” Walton: “A seamless transition.”
Comment: Okay, great dead-pan line for Pasch. Score one for the straight man.
3:46 – “Thank you Derek Jeter and congratulations. A five-time world-champion with the Yankees, announcing that this will be his final season. Bill Russell, who won 11championships in the NBA and two at the collegiate level, we’re celebrating his birthday today: he never announced his retirement, he just left. Sam Jones had announced his last season at the same time and Bill did not want to take anything away from his good friends and teammate Sam Jones.”
Comment: Minor correction. Russell never announced his retirement beforehand, but did announce his retirement in the pages of Sports Illustrated in August of 1969.
2:50 – “One of the coolest things about my job and my life is meeting all the parents of all the players. Last Thursday when we were leaving Berkeley, walking through the Oakland airport at five o’clock in the morning, this handsome, studly guy comes walking right up next to me and says ‘I’m Anthony Brown’s dad. I am Kent Brown and I’m going back to work today.’ It was just awesome.”
Comment: Not a game will go by without Walton mentioning at least one player’s parent. He really does make the rounds attempting to meet people associated with the players.
0:36 – Stanford down two with 36.8 seconds left, 23 on the shot clock: “No need for Stanford to foul here, because there is plenty of time between the shot clock and the game clock. My computer-like mind shows that that’s 13.8 seconds. So, you’ve got to make a defensive stop, get the rebound and then up the court, hit a three and you’re out of here with the victory.”
Comment: It all seems so easy.
0:17.4 – Following a wild Chasson Randle one-on-two fast break: “I don’t like that kind of basketball. I like structured theory on the fast break. Get to the free throw line. Keep it wide if there’s only one defender back. Look for somebody else. Why does it always have to be the guy with the ball taking his own shot?”
0:00 – “What a game for the Dogs. That’s what you get for trying to steal their food.”