Bill Walton

Bill Walton has a lot of admiration for 'very special' Jusuf Nurkic

Bill Walton has a lot of admiration for 'very special' Jusuf Nurkic

When you turn on any given basketball game on television, you almost immediately know when Bill Walton is calling the game.

Whether you hear one of his trademark sayings - like ‘Throw it down one time!” - or are listening to one of his tangents on how to use more sustainable energy, Walton is unforgettable, whether you enjoy his calls or not.

But one thing is for sure, his basketball IQ is off the charts and there is one player that he loves watching - Jusuf Nurkic.

The former Portland Trail Blazer center and NBA Champion explains why on the latest episode of the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast: 

The way he understands the game - and I haven’t seen him play that much - but the way he floats over the court for such a big, large person to have the footwork and the balance and the lightness of foot. To see the angles that he sees and I only see them on television. It’s always better in person. This guy is very special — Bill Walton on Jusuf Nurkic

The return of the Bosinan Beast cannot be overstated enough. Rip City has been waiting over one year for Nurk’s return to action, and he looks sharper than ever. Walton is absolutely correct pointing out Nurk’s high IQ and vision on the court. When he gets the ball at the elbow, the surrounding defense has to play honest because of the amount of times Nurk will tightrope a pass to a backdoor cutter. 

The Blazers finally return to meaningful games for the first time since March 10 on Friday in Orlando, Florida.

You can bet that Walton will be watching the Beast and how the NBA reacts to Nurk on the floor once again with the Trail Blazers.

Walton’s time in Portland and with the Trail Blazers organization is unforgettable. He helped bring the Rip City an NBA championship in 1977. 

It’s a very special time for me and what a privilege to be a part of something so special in my life… The celebration and the fans, the spirit and the pride, the emotional commitment and the signs that the fans would bring and the way they packed that Memorial Coliseum for all those years… It just made me the best player that I ever was. — Bill Walton on Rip City

It was a special time indeed for the Rose City. During that championship run, Walton was averaging 18.6 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game.

But for ‘Big Red,’ it wasn’t enough. 

I just wish I could have done more for the Trail Blazers. — Bill Walton 

The 6-foot-11 second-year center from UCLA helped bring a championship to Rip City and still wishes he could have done more for the franchise. Walton ended his basketball career as a 2x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, 1977 Finals MVP, 2x All-Defense, 1978 MVP and much more highlighted by the Hall of Fame.

Listen to the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here.

Bill Walton once rode a Pterodactyl over the West Coast

Bill Walton once rode a Pterodactyl over the West Coast

Bill Walton is a Portland legend and a national treasure. 

For years he has been a staple of college basketball broadcasts, bringing his own unique color commentary to your favorite campus arena.

Who could forget his now-famous "Have you ever seen a volcano?" rant?

What about the time he ate a cupcake, lit candle and all?

Everywhere Walton goes, hilarity seems to follow. 

That was the case on Monday, May 18, when Walton joined The Frank Caliendo Cast Podcast. 

The podcast itself was two hours long, but just five minutes into the shenanigans, Walton took it off the rails as only he could.

Walton took over the show and proceeded to tell the story of him, a pterodactyl, and a flight over the West Coast:

In my life, I am rarely home. But I am home now, safe at home. So I open the closet door, and bam! This big, giant pterodactyl just came flapping its wings... While I had been learning to fly all week long, I grabbed onto the back, the back of his spine, the back of his shoulder and his wings, and we took off and we soared. - Bill Walton

It didn't stop there. 

Walton just continued to tell the tale of how he willed the pterodactyl to continue the journey. 

"I sorta realized the pterodactyl was getting tired, he had his lunch and he wanted to take a nap, but I kept kneeing him right in the kidney," said Walton.

We just kept going and going, and we finally got to the top of Mt. Laguna. When we got to the top of Mt. Laguna, we could see everything and beyond! I looked back, "Wow. We came that far?" I looked forward, "We still have more to go! Let's get going!" I went back and I checked the schedule of the next departure of the Peace Train, and I figured that if I got on the phone with somebody named Walt Billton, I would be able to find my way home and be able to continue a conversation with myself that I've been having for all these years. - Bill Walton  

I have no idea what the heck Bill Wilton just said. All I know is that I laughed so hard I cried. 

If you want to get the full Bill Walton Peace Train experience, be sure to listen to the full Frank Caliendo Cast Podcast. 

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Fry and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon. 

Bill Walton breaks down the greatness of Larry Bird

Bill Walton breaks down the greatness of Larry Bird

Trail Blazers legend Bill Walton may be best known for helping Portland win the NBA title in 1977.

He's less known for the parts of two seasons he played at the end of his career with the Boston Celtics. 

Walton played just 90 games for Boston, but in that limited time, no player had a greater impact on him than Larry Bird. 

Bird is widely regarded as one of the best to ever play the game. 

Walton echoed that sentiment, telling NBC Sports Boston's Brian Scalabrine why Larry was the greatest player he ever played with. 

Larry did not want halftime. Larry did not want timeouts. Larry did not want days off in-between the games. He wanted seven straight days of basketball and the first team to win four, that's fine. He was not into waiting around. He was certainly not into waiting around for any of his teammates. He was not waiting around for the coach. Not waiting around for the television schedule. Larry, he was ready to play and ready to deliver. And did he ever. The way his brain -- just super smart, his analytical ability to figure out what was going to work, when it was going to work, how it was going to work. And then the fact that his body was able to just keep carrying how much he worked at being great, how much he worked at having his level of physical because, you know, he had other guys who could do the job, but he made the commitment and the determination, you know, 'I'm going to give my life, I'm going to give my body to the Boston Celtics. And we're going to do everything we can to get it done each and every day.

Walton is an NBA legend in his own right, so it speaks volumes to Bird's talent for Walton to speak so highly of him. 

Greatness recognizes greatness. Real recognizes real. 

Social media in 1977? Rip City reacts to Trail Blazers Classic '77 Championship Game

Social media in 1977? Rip City reacts to Trail Blazers Classic '77 Championship Game

After a 49-33 record during the regular season and a three-seed in the Western Conference, the Trail Blazers, led by first-year Jack Ramsey, which became a franchise in 1970, were in their first-ever playoff appearance.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Game 6 tipped off in the Memorial Coliseum on June 5th, 1977...

And on a sunny day amidst the NBA's current extended break, Portland was treated to this Trail Blazers Classic Game re-airing on NBC Sports Northwest.

 

One of the best parts about re-watching the Trail Blazers '77 Championship game, was seeing Rip City show their excitement on Twitter.

Down 2-0 in the series against the Sixers, the Trail Blazers stormed back and won both games at home to tie the series at two games apiece. They went back to Philly and defeated the 76ers in Game 5.

And then... it was this magical Game 6.

1976-77 NBA FINALS SCHEDULE:

Game 1

PHILADELPHIA 107, Portland 101

Game 2

PHILADELPHIA 107, Portland 89

Game 3

PORTLAND 129, Philadelphia 107

Game 4

PORTLAND 130, Philadelphia 98

Game 5

Portland 110, PHILADELPHIA 104

Game 6

PORTLAND 109, Philadelphia 107 

Bill Walton averaged 18.2 points per game, along with 15.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 39.7 minutes of action during the 1976-77 postseason.

Walton finished with 20 points and 20 rebounds in the title game. 

The Enforcer, Maurice Lucas, who averaged 38.5 minutes, 21.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game during the 1976-77 playoffs, was also trending during Sunday’s classic game.

But, what many were posting about on Twitter is just how much the game has changed. 

For the Godfather and our Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes, he can’t help but think about how much better the pace and outlets passes were back in the day.

One thing that is the exact same from the ’77 Championship run to today is:

BlazerMania and the Rip City Faithful have always showed up for the Trail Blazers whether it was in the Memorial Coliseum or the Rose Garden/Moda Center. 

Damian Lillard has back spasms: Isn't it time to consider load management?

Damian Lillard has back spasms: Isn't it time to consider load management?

If ever it was no surprise that somebody was going to have to sit out a game because of back spasms, it’s tonight with Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.

The man has been carrying this team on his back all season, leading the league in minutes – and those were some pretty stressful, high-usuage-rate minutes, at that. No wonder Damian Lillard has back spasms.

You don’t believe in load management? Well, you probably don’t believe in flu shots, either, right?

It’s the same thing. You don’t have the flu when you get that shot -- you get the shot to keep you from having the flu. Same with load management. You are healthy enough to play in a game, but rather than stress your body another night, you rest. You rest to prevent injuries – which is easier than trying to treat the injury once you get it. And you stave off fatigue that comes from piling game on top of game.

The Trail Blazers are in the midst of a six-game road trip that offers too much travel, too many games and are tonight playing the second of back-to-back games. Lillard should probably sit this game out even if his back wasn’t hurting.

More and more, people are coming to realize that the density of the schedule combined with a lack of sleep that occurs because of the crazy cross-time-zone travel leads to fatigue. And fatigue leads to injuries.

The Trail Blazers, for whatever reasons, have refused to rest healthy players over the years. Part of this, I’m sure, is because the players themselves wish to play. And the team wants to win every possible game in order to make the playoffs. But that shouldn’t matter. The team needs to step up and protect players from themselves. Particularly a player such as Lillard, who knows how important he is to his squad.

Will resting players cause losses? Yes, of course. Not all the time, but sometimes. But would you rather lose a player for three months because of a severe injury, or just lose a game or two here or there?

And when I think back about the troubles this team has had keeping franchise players healthy, I believe more than ever that load management could have been an answer.

Bill Walton, Sam Bowie, Greg Oden, Brandon Roy – would any of them have lasted a little longer with a lighter load? Maybe sitting out a game here and there or playing with a limit on minutes? I think that’s possible.

Obviously, there is no way to prove any of those players – or Lillard – would have profited from load management, but I’d certainly favor giving it a try.

And at some point, the league is going to have to explore shortening the schedule. This is too much and players are paying a price for it.

Portland Trail Blazers All-Decade Team: The 1970s

Portland Trail Blazers All-Decade Team: The 1970s

It's Decade Night at the Moda Center on Saturday as the Trail Blazers celebrate their 50th Anniversary season!

In the first of five special theme nights, Saturday is all about celebrating the 70s of Trail Blazer basketball. 

With that, let's take a look below, and in the video above at our Top 5 Players of the 1970s:

Bill Walton ('74-'79)

Possibly the GOAT as far as Trail Blazers go, the big man was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993 and is listed as one of the league's all-time Top 50 Players. 

Walton led Portland to its only Championship in 1977 and won the Finals MVP. He is also the only Blazer to win League MVP when he won it in '78-'79. 

Maurice Lucas ('76-'80)

Lucas was the starting power forward for the 1977 Championship team playing alongside Bill Walton. He was a five-time NBA All-Star and twice named to the All-Defense Team. 

He averaged 15.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in five seasons as Trail Blazer. 

Lionel Hollins ('75-'80)

The starting point guard on the '77 Championship team who averaged 13.9 points and 4.4 assists in five seasons with the Trail Blazers. 

He made the All-Rookie Team, was twice named to the All-Defensive Team and made the All-Star Team once. 

Geoff Petrie ('70-'76)

The original Trail Blazer! Petrie was the first player ever drafted by the franchise and won Rookie of the Year in 1971 and was also a two-time All-Star. 

For three seasons, he averaged more than 24 points per game in an era before the 3-point line!

Bob Gross ('75-'82)

Another member of the 1977 Championship Team, starting small forward Bob Gross makes the list.

Gross was a 1978 All-Defensive Team player and finished third in NBA Finals MVP voting the year Portland won the title behind Bill Walton and Julius Erving. 

 

Biking with Bill Walton -- a perfect start to Blazers 50th Anniversary Season

Biking with Bill Walton -- a perfect start to Blazers 50th Anniversary Season

It was a blast from the past on Sunday afternoon in Portland.

There were plenty of tie-dye shirts, plenty of bicycles, and plenty of love for the Portland Trail Blazers during Sunday’s ‘Bike with Bill Walton’ event.

It was as if fans traveled back in time to 1977 when Portland took home its first and only Larry O'Brien trophy.

Trail Blazers legend and 1977 NBA Finals MVP Bill Walton was back in Rip City to bike ride with Blazers fans ahead of the team’s 50th anniversary season.

Fans young and old took part in the nearly two-mile route, which just so happened to be the 1977 Championship Parade route.

The event began at 2 p.m. Sunday, with fans gathering outside of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Walton led a pack of fans over the Broadway Bridge and through downtown to Terry Schrunk Plaza, the same spot that the Blazers’ championship parade ended 42 years ago.

“I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I’m in Oregon today celebrating the rollout of the 50th Anniversary of all things Blazers, what could be better? I’m having the time of my life,” Walton told the media before hopping on his bike to ride through downtown.

During his playing days, it was very common to see Walton riding his bike to Blazers games. And, most Trail Blazers fans remember that he also rode to the championship parade in June of 1977, and then in all the madness he lost his bike.

Fortunately, a fan did return Walton’s bike back to him.

This past weekend’s bike ride was part of the Sunday Parkways Green Loop that is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Biking down the former parade route was a one of the best rides down memory lane for the Trail Blazers legend.

“June 5th, 1977, just like this [day,]” Walton said with a big smile.

“The greatest memories that any young man could possibly ever have,” Walton said. “This is where my dreams came true. The dream continues to expand. This is such a remarkable facility, state, community, town, everything here, and this is where I started. I started here 45 years ago and it was just spectacular.”

Walton wanted to make sure the media and fans knew that his teammate, the late Maurice Lucas, was represented on the bike ride by Maurice’s son David.

David rode Maurice’s old bike alongside Walton.

Walton made gave a lot of credit to Lucas. It’s apparent the genuine admiration Walton had and still has for The Enforcer.   

“Maurice is just the greatest teammate that I ever had and the reason why the Blazers were the best team in the land,” Walton said.     

The 2x All-Star had his worlds collide with his love of the Trail Blazers organization and his love for riding his bike.

“I would ride everywhere in Oregon. This is such a beautiful state,” Walton said.

“I’ve been riding my whole life,” Walton added. “I started when I was five years old. What bicycling is to me, it’s freedom, it’s independence, it’s empowering, it’s enabling… And I love my bike.”

After the bike ride ended around 3:30p.m., the Blazers made a special announcement revealing their Classic Edition jerseys for the upcoming season, which will be a retro look to celebrate 50 years as a franchise.  

After the jersey announcement it was time to celebrate.

Blazers fans were treated to live music from Grateful Dead cover band Garcia Birthday Band.

Walton helped out by playing the drums and singing along. 

Sunday’s bike ride was a perfect way to tip-off the Trail Blazers 50th Anniversary Season.

As Walton reflected on the past, he discussed how “everything” makes the Trail Blazers organization unique.

He also believes it was the people in Rip City that made it special.

“It’s always the people – just the quality and the spirit.” Walton said. “What I love is the collective sense of effort and purpose. What the Blazers do, what they’ve done, and what they’re going to do, with Jody Allen carrying over now for Paul, and the stability of the ownership, if you’re going to count Jody and Paul as one, there’s only been three owners in the history of the franchise, and so when you have the kind of stability, but more importantly the commitment, the commitment to excellence… That’s what make [the organization] so great.”

Trail Blazers announce special ‘Bike with Bill Walton’ event set for late August

usatsi_9913001.jpg
USA Today Images

Trail Blazers announce special ‘Bike with Bill Walton’ event set for late August

It’s time for Rip City to start celebrating.  

Earlier this month the Trail Blazers unveiled their new 50th Anniversary court that the team will playing on for all home games this season. The new design honors the 50th anniversary of the franchise and that’s just the beginning.

On Tuesday, the Blazers announced a special event called ‘Bike with Bill Walton’ that will have Blazers fans taking a trip down memory lane.

‘Bike with Bill Walton’ is a chance for fans to relive the 1977 Championship parade.

Join the Blazers on August 25th at 2 p.m. as fans bike from Veterans Memorial Coliseum to Terry Schrunk Plaza. At the end of the ride the Blazers will then have a special announcement.

[RELATED]: Blazers unveil special 50th anniversary court design

You can RSVP to the event on the Trail Blazers Facebook Page right here.

Can we have Bill Walton broadcast baseball games all the time?

Can we have Bill Walton broadcast baseball games all the time?

Former NBA and Trail Blazers star Bill Walton took over social media when he took over the broadcast booth on Friday night while working as a special guest analyst for the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels game in Anaheim.

Friday's game was broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago as Walton joined NBCS Chicago’s play-by-play host Jason Benetti.

The 1977 Trail Blazers champion was a fill-in for regular White Sox analyst Steve Stone.

The broadcast went just as you would imagine it to would.

SO MANY GREAT QUOTES.

Here are just a few of the top quotes of the night from Walton:

“Is that the catcher? I tell you I’m not a very good catcher…”

“Putting all the powers together of the rare Earth minerals, you’ve just come up with this incredible computer generated stud for the future.”

“Rainbow is my favorite color.”

“Good eye, good patience… You tell that pitcher to bring it right in here.”

“GO! GO! This is gonna be a run… Here we go Sox. Take me out to the ball game, I don’t care if I never come back!”

In the fifth inning, when Mike Trout hit his 41st home run of the season, Walton analyzed it as so:

"That's Trout? Swimming upstream, avoiding all the flies, and sending one ricocheting through the universe."

MLB fans took to Twitter to express their love of Walton’s calls. There's no doubt fans want Walton to be in the broadcast booth for more MLB games.

Can we call it the Blazers' "Case of the Cursed Centers?"

Can we call it the Blazers' "Case of the Cursed Centers?"

This story is painful for longtime Trail Blazer fans but it must be told. Can we call it the Case of the Cursed Centers?

It all started with Bill Walton. The All-America center out of UCLA was the No. 1 pick in the 1974 NBA draft. The franchise knew when it picked him that he’d been plagued by foot and leg problems but he was an elite player – an all-time great at the college level who was a can’t-miss pro.

Walton played in only a combined 86 games for Portland his first two seasons but the third season was a beauty. He was healthy for 65 games and through the playoffs, when he led his team to its one and only NBA championship and was the Finals MVP.

The following season he was the league’s Most Valuable Player but exited after 58 games with foot problems and never played another game for Portland.

Then came Sam Bowie, the second pick of the 1984 draft. He played 76 games as a rookie but only a combined 63 over the next four seasons, as leg injuries sidelined him and eventually led to a trade that brought Buck Williams from New Jersey. And oh yes, the Blazers took Bowie over Michael Jordan, as you remember.

In 2007, Portland again had the first pick in the draft and selected Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. Oden played a total of 82 games over five seasons with the Blazers.

And now, of course, there is Jusuf Nurkic. In late March of 2017, he suffered a non-displaced fracture of his right fibula and missed the final seven games of the regular season. He attempted a comeback in the playoffs but could handle only 17 minutes of one game.

Monday it got muck worse for Nukic, as everyone knows. He suffered a compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula and underwent surgery Tuesday.

Nurkic was moving toward becoming one of the top centers in the league and his net rating (10.4) is said to be the best by a Portland player since the stat was created in 2000.

What is it about the Trail Blazers' centers and their lower bodies? If you were a center and drafted by or traded to Portland, would you decline the opportunity and head to Europe? Invest big money in a company that manufactures crutches?

I’m not much of a believer in jinxes but is it fair to say the franchise is cursed? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Center is a basketball position that puts a lot of very large men in a small confined space near the basket where they often collide with each other. And often these men don’t seem to have lower limbs sturdy enough to handle the stress on their big bodies.

I’ve always thought these sorts of things even out over time. But as far as the Trail Blazers are concerned, that time can’t come soon enough.

This just hasn’t been fair.