Thanks to a chronic back condition that prevented him from traveling, Bill Walton announced his official retirement today from broadcasting. Walton was as polarizing a figure as has ever existed in the sport of basketball, on and off-court.
(Okay, maybe that was a little much)
With the news of his departure, I’m guessing there are many out there who are relieved that he won’t be injecting NBA broadcasts with his obligatory hyperbole. But I’m not one of those people.
If we’re talking a game involving LeBron or Kobe, then there was no place for Walton on the broadcast. But Walton added an extra level of excitement when it came to announcing games involving the NBA’s lesser lights. Even a team like the Spurs, who often play a plodding style doubling as a cure for insomnia, were enhanced when Walton was assigned to their telecast.
Walton perhaps came off as an egomaniac to some, but I never felt he crossed over into arrogance on-air. His passion for the game is something that NBA broadcasts will miss. Losing him is akin to Charles Barkley departing the TNT set.
The NBA product, with some exceptions, isn’t strong enough to sell itself on-air every night. Walton being gone is more of a blow to league telecasts than you might think.