HoopsHype Bill Walton rumors

October 23, 2012 Updates

How do you do that? I spend a tremendous amount of my time working for the Better Way Back program, an organization that provides support and advocacy for people whose lives have fallen apart because of their spine issues. And it’s just absolutely remarkable what is possible in the world today. When you spend three years on the floor, you have a lot of time to think about what you are going to do if you ever get better. And so that’s why I go around the country. Health is the foundation of everything. Without it, nothing is attainable. It’s an unbelievably emotional moment when I’m on the phone with people I don’t know, that they can do it. They can get through it. People are terrified about spine surgery. My spine surgery was fantastic. I’m all better. I don’t have any pain. A miracle has happened. So when I talk to people on the phone, they’ll often just break down and say, you’re the first person I’ve talked to who knows what it’s like. When you have that unbelievable searing, scorching pain, running through your whole body, you never forget that. People who haven’t felt it have no idea. No idea. Now that I’m all better, the darkness is incomprehensible. But when you’re in that space, and your life is over, it’s very clear. San Antonio Express-News

October 3, 2012 Updates

Basketball great Bill Walton is ready to recap his amazing career and even more amazing recovery. Simon & Schuster announced Wednesday that Walton, 59, is working on a memoir that will come out in the fall of 2013. The book is tentatively called "Back From the Dead." It will cover everything from Walton's triumphs with UCLA to his overcoming a stutter and becoming a broadcaster to the collapsed spine that left him hardly able to move for three years. The book will be co-authored by veteran sportswriter John Papanek. ESPN.com

July 15, 2012 Updates

"My spine failed after a lifetime of spine problems," Walton told USA TODAY Sports by phone Sunday. "My life was over. I spent three years on the floor." He couldn't move much and says he sometimes was suicidal. But this season he'll call ESPN Pac-12 basketball games as ESPN expands its coverage of the league through a new deal. Walton also will join the conference's soon-to-launch regional network and will return for occasional Sacramento Kings local broadcasts. USA Today

Asked about his physical rehab, Walton quibbles with the semantics. "You can never look at it as physical therapy — it's life." He remembers the anesthesia kicking in when he had his life-changing 2009 operation, and grabbing his surgeon to say, "Please help me. Please give me a chance to ride my bike again." Said Walton: I got it, and I can't stop smiling." USA Today

May 2, 2012 Updates

On Tuesday, he said he is pain-free, taking no medications and feeling healthier than he has since high school. He has a life again, but a different one. "Your life is never the same again," he said. "And that's why I'm here today." "Here" was the Providence Cancer Center in Northeast Portland, a leading facility in cancer prevention, research and treatment. On Wednesday, Walton, joined by Trail Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely, will speak at the center's annual luncheon at the Oregon Convention Center, a role filled in the event's previous 13 years by such sports luminaries as Cal Ripken Jr., Vivian Stringer and Scott Hamilton. None, though, had the Portland connection of Walton, who led the Blazers to the only NBA title in franchise history in 1977. Oregonian

February 13, 2012 Updates

As shaggy dogs go, Lawler is in his 40s, yet he takes Marge's advice and loosens up. Then Bill Walton takes a seat beside him. "Marge got me started and Bill put me on the fast track,"' he says. "I love that guy; the most generous human being I have ever known next to my father." The odd couple is every bit as hilarious as Oscar and Felix, the Clippers losing like always, but who cares? Walton moves on. Lawler survives prostate cancer and Michael Olowokandi playing for the Clippers. The rest you pretty much know except for this crazed obsession with his wife. Jo goes with him to every game, home and road. "Every minute I'm with her is a minute I treasure," he says, and I've got to believe the ladies in the audience have already put him in the Hall of Fame. Los Angeles Times

January 15, 2012 Updates

Bill Walton is broadcasting Kings games on an occasional basis, giving fans his eloquent and unique take on things such as the DeMarcus Cousins situation. Walton is missed on the national stage, the Hall of Famer stepping away from broadcasting when spinal pain became too great and required delicate surgery. Walton had always dealt with back and foot pain - the latter slicing years off his NBA career - but the pain that developed in later years became debilitating. “Five years ago, when my spine collapsed and failed me, I spent the next three years on the ground,’’ he said. “All you want is for that pain to go away and get that chance to play one more day. I’m lucky. I’m coming up on the three-year anniversary of my surgery. I had no idea what life was like without back pain.’’ Boston Globe

Not only did the pain force Walton to interrupt his broadcasting career, it led him to contemplate his mortality. “When you spend three years on the ground, in excruciating, debilitating, unrelenting pain, it can only be described as being submerged in a vat of scalding acid with an electrifying current running through it,’’ he said. “And you know full well that your life is over and it’s not worth living. You go through the stages of thinking you’re going to die, to wanting to die, to being afraid you’re going to live, to all of sudden you get better. Your life is never the same again.’’ Walton is auctioning a $100,000 event package at his San Diego home to benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which provides equipment and other necessities for physically challenged athletes. Walton has a special connection with the cause. Boston Globe

December 10, 2011 Updates

The Blazers have at least the mini-mid-level exception with which to sign another player — three years and more than $9 million. Buchanan wasn’t sure if it meant adding a guard or a player to the front line. He said they’ll have to wait for the first line of free agents to be signed — many of them at the regular mid-level exception beginning at $5 million a year — and see what talent remains available. All the Blazer players spoke reverently about Roy on Friday. Camby looked up at the string of retired numbers hanging from the rafters at the practice facility and offered, “His number sure belongs up there.” It will be soon enough. Roy is the third-greatest Blazer player of all-time, behind only Clyde Drexler and Bill Walton in terms of impact on the franchise. Portland Tribune

October 7, 2011 Updates

He said he didn’t want to comment on [the lockout] then, hinting anything he said would soon become outdated. “They’re close,” he said, grinning widely, as if he knew something he couldn’t share about the negotiations between owners and NBA Players Association. Does that mean he is confident there will be a full season? “Oh, yeah,” Walton said, grinning again. “They’re close.” Orange County Register

August 17, 2011 Updates

Sabonis suffered the big-man's curse. It is the irony of the game that often some of the bodies built for basketball are ultimately too delicate to handle how the sport pounds the feet, ankles, and knees. The bigger the body, the greater the chance that a tiny abnormality can halt a brilliant career and crumble it like a misplaced Jenga block. Bill Walton and Yao Ming are among those whose sparkling careers were derailed by debilitating injuries. But at least the NBA's audience witnessed them, appreciated the development of greatness even if the peak was abbreviated. With Sabonis, we are left only with a dabble of YouTube clips filmed long before YouTube was created. "I am no longer a locomotive, only a small trolley," Sabonis once told the Oregonian after he arrived in Portland. Before him now, I wondered if Sabonis' legend would be greater in the United States if he had never arrived at all. Grantland

If Sabonis arrived in Portland unscathed, he could have had a Michael Jordan-like impact upon the game, Whitsitt said. He hedged on the comparison by saying that the point is definitely arguable. But the statement was made because Whitsitt believes in its possibility. He is not alone. Walton first saw Sabonis as a 19-year-old in the European championships. "He probably had a quadruple-double at halftime, and his coach, Alexander Gomelsky, didn't even start him in the second half," Walton said in a telephone call. "We looked at each other, our jaws just dropping, and I said, 'You might as well just rewrite the rules of basketball after watching him play for just the first half,' the first time I ever saw him. When you think of the history of basketball, the rules were changed to make it harder for three guys: Russell, Wilt, and Kareem. All the other rules have been changed to make it easier. "He could do everything. He had the skills of Larry Bird and Pete Maravich. He had the athleticism of Kareem, and he could shoot the 3-point shot. He could pass and run the floor, dribble. We should have carried out a plan in the early 1980s to kidnap him and bring him back right then." Grantland

The legend of Sabonis grew after the game. The United States would play Croatia in the gold-medal game eight hours later, allowing for a time gap between the bronze game and the award ceremony. Sabonis and his teammates ventured back to the Olympic dormitory, where Sabonis challenged fellow Olympians in arm wrestling for shots. One by one, wrestlers and shot putters among them, Sabonis beat them. By the time of the award ceremony, three Lithuanians did not make it to the podium. Sabonis was one of them. "I knew how they used to roll," said Chris Mullin, part of the United States' Dream Team. "I think they came out with their tie-dye on. They did what the Deadheads do. They got loosened up. Made use of their free time." Sabonis was located a couple of days later in one of the women's Olympic dormitories. Grantland

In the following season, Wallace threw the towel at Sabonis during a timeout of a game against the Lakers. Sabonis had accidentally smacked Wallace's face earlier when he collided in the post with O'Neal. "Under normal circumstances, he'd have probably knocked his head into next year," Doucette said. "I don't think you want to challenge Arvydas. But he kept his cool because he knew that if he didn't, that team would come apart right there. He did a marvelous job of remaining composed." Walton, who was broadcasting the game nationally, still feels remorse over the incident. "It was one of the lowest moments of my life," he said. "If I was any kind of a man, I would have got up from that broadcast table and walked across the court and punched Rasheed Wallace in the nose. But I let Sabonis and the game of basketball and the human race down that day." Grantland

I asked the question that Sabonis has no doubt answered a hundred times. How would he have fared if he were never hurt or if he had entered the NBA at an earlier age? Would he have been the edge Portland needed in winning championships in 1990 and 1992 instead of just making finals appearances? "Look, what happened, it happened," he said. "I don't know. I know what's real in my life happened. What else? Who knows? If I came in '86 or '92, if I come we would be talking about other questions. But I came in '95, so we're talking about '95." Grantland

July 11, 2011 Updates

Bill Walton loves bikes. From his college days riding to class at UCLA to his daily ride through Northwest Portland to practice at the Rose Garden, bicycling has always been a part of Walton's life. So, when the nearly seven-foot tall, Hall of Fame basketball legend and member of the Portland Trail Blazers 1977 NBA Championship team visited Portland for a speaking gig earlier this month, he used the trip as a perfect excuse to put in some miles on the open road. BikePortland.org

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