May 7, 2010, 10:35 AM EDT
I’ve missed Bill Walton.
He was a larger-than-life person and personality, a great player and a broadcaster who made the game fun with hyperbole. He rubbed some people the wrong way — I’ll admit he annoyed me at times — but he always a reminder that this is a game and supposed to be fun.
Oh, and he has basketball opinions, as he told the New York Times’ Howard Beck:
What I would really like to see is LeBron play for
free. There are rules that you cannot do that. You have to get a minimum
salary. Say, ‘I’ll play for the minimum, I’ll make my money in the
endorsement market — just spend the rest of the money and buy me some
real players. Pay them. And lets make a real super team. And lets change
the history of basketball…
(The Celtics have the) Best point guard in the Eastern Conference, best coach in the Eastern
Conference, best home-court advantage in the East Conference. Best
depth. Tremendous size across the front line. Fantastic individual
offense in Paul
Pierce, a phenomenal big-game finisher in Ray
Allen and Kevin
Garnett, a historical-level figure who’s playing as well as he can,
based on his physical limitations. I see the Celtics winning the East….
But (Pau Gasol’s) game is unique, because it’s 100 percent based on skill. There’s
never any pushing, shoving. You win the championship when you have the
best player, and the Lakers have that in Kobe — Kobe and LeBron are
the two best players — and you have the best coach, Phil Jackson; and
you dominate the paint. And that’s what Pau Gasol does. And
he does it with his mind, his heart, his soul, his spirit and his
I’m fairly sure that among LeBron James’ free agent options, playing for free will not be one of them.
But the idea is fun…. I’ve missed Bill Walton.