Geniuses / In praise of Bill Walton

Whether he's crit­i­ciz­ing a par­tic­u­lar play­er ("Tony Park­er just made the worst pass in the his­to­ry of West­ern civ­i­liza­tion") or the refs ("Why even have a rule­book?"), or extolling the virtues of a bench­warmer who hits a cou­ple of shots in a row ("If Eric Piatkows­ki con­tin­ues play­ing at this lev­el, he's going to replace Jer­ry West on the NBA logo"), Bill Wal­ton nev­er fails to amuse dur­ing an NBA broad­cast. His com­men­tary is a mas­ter­ly blend of satire, deep knowl­edge of the NBA, and cur­mud­geon­ly dis­dain for play­ground antics and run-and-gun slop­pi­ness ("Cut­ti­no Mob­ley has just made the two worst shot attempts in the his­to­ry of this proud Hous­ton Rock­ets fran­chise.") Too bad he's been rel­e­gat­ed to the broad­cast B‑team; I miss his pres­ence dur­ing the big games. If you're look­ing for Wal­ton quote col­lec­tions, check out The Great Bill Wal­ton, Goril­la Mask, Com­plete Sports, and this real­ly bizarre ESPN pod­cast in which Bill makes repeat­ed ref­er­ences to some Brazil­ian celebrity's Inter­net sex video, prais­es Bren­dan Hay­wood ("keep run­ning, it's good for you"), tells a pret­ty good sto­ry about Lar­ry Bird mak­ing a series of three-point­ers and bank­ing each one in, and dis­cuss­es his love of, and frus­tra­tion with, cross­word puz­zles ("What is a 10-let­ter word for 'surge'?! I was crushed when I couldn't come up with … 'esca­la­tion.'").