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Bill Walton: LeBron James should play for free

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.

Back pain knocked him down. Hard. But now he is back up, getting back into the game of life and playing evangelist for the doctor and back procedure that has him up and back in the game of life.

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
incredible skill.”

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.

  1. davidly - May 8, 2010 at 9:12 AM

    I would rather he (and others) would just stop doing endorsements. People moan about how overpaid pro athletes are, but I think it is the endorsement deals for – let’s face it – valueless crap that sends the message: You can never have enough money.
    I say: Just do your friggin’ job and let the questionable corporate class do their own PR.

  2. doy - May 8, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    Lebron is 4 yr old nba player, meaning, still raising fund for his family’s future. bills idea maybe acceptable to lebron 10 yrs from n ow. lebron today has two mvp’s without championship. that a pressure cooker for him for bill’s idea. an angle which maybe even nexr year would be acceptable to lebron if lakers would be the champion this yr.bill’s idea, is not far to lebron’s psychology even now he is playing for cavs. mvp’s without championship? what a shame!

  3. SpankMonkey - May 8, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    O’NEAL in the same sentence as Jabbar and Russell … laughable … Chamberlain for sure, Olajuwon maybe … but agreed, Walton not being in there … but of course this could be debated forever.

  4. Henry - May 8, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    Please use grammar check or something. No one can tell what the hell you’re saying.

  5. Keith - May 8, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    I LOVE Bill Walton. He makes life fun and enjoyable.

  6. JT - May 9, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    Hate any great ideas because that is what you have been trained to do.

  7. Sms - May 11, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    I think LeBron James is only in the game for himself. His game is very selffish. Eveything is LeBron James. A very good players let his team particpate in the game gives them a chance to show off. Look at Nash from Phoenix Suns. I am not a sports person but I watch TV.

  8. The man - May 12, 2010 at 6:52 AM

    LOL you probably sit and dream abou the good old days when “stars” like Keith Van horn and Christian Laettner played … GTFOH …..
    lol
    go watch badminton or ping pong

  9. The man - May 12, 2010 at 6:54 AM

    LOL you probably sit and dream abou the good old days when “stars” like Keith Van horn and Christian Laettner played … GTFOH …..
    lol
    go watch badminton or ping pong

  10. Jeff - May 12, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    you are as correct as possible

  11. CHRIS WRIGHT - May 13, 2010 at 11:27 PM

    i think that the skill of LeBron James is unpredictable,phenomenal and quite frankly 1 of the best players iv seen since JORDAN -VS-BIRD give him his credit bill walton was a flat footed CLOWN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! C WRIGHT 2010

  12. Vee - May 15, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    Bill Walton spend most of his time shining the end of a bench during his supposed “career”. How anyone gives this guy credit for being such a great player is beyond me. How the heck does he think he knows what LeBron should do! I guess by his sitting on his a__ gave him enough time to THINK he knows about basketball. The sport has been very pleasurable to watch and listen since we haven’t to be subjected to Mr. Know-It-All.

  13. sammy - May 15, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    Labron needs a coach ,
    Celevand start with at a coach , all the superstar had great coach
    I just wondering if Labron is coachable after that many years of not having a coach ..Go to the jazz and play with the best point gaurd and a great coach in Sloan!!!!!

  14. HeWillNotPlayForFree - May 15, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    LeBron will never play for a minimum. Money is everything for him. I remember a comment he made that he wants to be the first ever Billion $ athlete. He never said he wants to be the winning est athlete…

  15. VISION - May 17, 2010 at 7:48 AM

    Sorry Bill,
    I like you, but that idea is absolutely rediculous…
    First: Did YOU ever play for free…EVER??
    Second: Can LeBron provide for his children; you know like attendance at the U of Arizona like your kid Luke, for free??
    Third: Do you think there will be free admission to games of a team constructed in that fashion???
    The answre is a resounding NO…
    Last: All of you idiots who think its such a great idea; go in to work today and tell your employer that you are going to work the next six years for no salary…I’m sure they will garantee your position is not outsourced or eliminated. Then go to your mortgage-holder and inform them of you and Bill’s great new idea. Then go to the grocery store, gas station, and then tell your wife, girlfriend or significant other and see how long she’s around.
    Maybe you can move in with bill for free…

  16. VISION - May 17, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    Please excuse my spelling of answer and guarantee…I didn’t proof read but you know what I mean. The B in Bill should also have capitalized.
    Something I left out:Kurt. Was your 3 line entry a statement that you mis Bill Walton, or agreement with him that LeBron should play for free?
    I’d really like you to be less ambiguous about the entry,
    Vision

  17. Jason - May 17, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    Ha, Orlando got handled on there own floor, oops you spoke too soon!

  18. Jason - May 17, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    The best player since Jordan vs. Bird? Who in God’s name are you kidding? Lets kick a few things around. He and his TEAM had the best record in the NBA this year, why are people saying his cast was not good enough? Lets shift the blame, Maybe Lebron was not good enough? GOd forbid people downgrade his game! He had enough turnovers to make Kwame Brown cringe. You would never hear Jordan, Kobe or Magic ever take the self righteous position at the podium that he took after the loss. People get spoiled by my PLAY? HAHA Righhhhhht? He couldnt get it done on the big stage. Maybe if he took the time he spent coming up with cute team poses before the game and worked on not turning the ball over. They would have not been outed again on the big stage. All that talent and cant get it done when it matters much, gives up. I by no means am a hater, He was one of my faves until I was let down like everyone else. Here is a question, If he is so unstoppable why was he stopped again this year?

  19. jason - May 17, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Actualy, Jordan got payed less then Scotty for some time just so you know!

  20. Joseph - May 18, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    Jake,
    Asssuming your persnal qualifications included analysis and commentary, Could you perform at the same level as Bill Walton? Could you set aside your biasis and give it your best shot? And lastly, could you overcome a severe speech impediment as Bill has accomplished? If it were I, I would prattle on 24/7 and proudly proclaim myself as the luckiest person in the world.
    Ciao
    Joseph

  21. jay Abramson - May 20, 2010 at 4:47 AM

    He is the man and one of the greatest fundamental players of all-time.
    He could do it all, if Larry Bird was a center he would be Bill Walton.
    At least he is never boring with his thoughts and comments!

  22. Daniel - May 24, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    I could have done without all that Grateful Dead stuff during Waltons’ commentary….I would really be enjoying his comments, and then he’d start gushing about the Grateful Dead and bring me back to the reality that he is forever only 17 years old.

  23. Daniel - May 24, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    I’m glad Bill’s feeling better…that Grateful Dead lapse was just one of those things, like some of the otherwise great, great centers that can’t shoot foul shots…
    All in all, a wonderful player and a very entertaining announcer.

  24. don - May 27, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    Vision,
    considering the fact that Lebron already makes more money from endorsements than he does salary, and considering that if he did such a “noble gesture for love of the game”, even more corporate sponsors would be lining up for him to endorse, I think he could probably still manage to afford all those things you were doubting he could afford. I mean, I know 50 million in a year isn’t much for rich guys like you,Vision, but I won’t make that in ten lifetimes, if by some miracle I live to a thousand years old or so.I still manage to get by and pay my bills though…..

  25. Anonymous - May 27, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    ahhhhhh HAHAH!

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