On the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, former NBA superstar Bill Walton made his way into the broadcast booth of NBC Sports Chicago to be the color commentator for a White Sox-Angels game. Walton was his usual self whenever he spoke, taking quantum leaps from topic to topic as he transitioned between the planes of this world and the great beyond, but perhaps what made this experience most entertaining was that this was clearly a man who was learning new things about the sport as he was talking about it.
Even with that inexperience, it’s important to remember that this obviously wasn’t Walton’s first rodeo as a broadcaster, and like any good color guy he made sure to infuse his personal experience of playing the sport into what he spoke about.
Then he got somewhat philosophical about how a baseball game is structured—so much so that the producers more or less had to play him off so that the broadcast could go to commercial.
Standing next to Walton with the best seat in the house to this madness was play-by-play broadcaster Jason Benetti, who had actually worked with the big man before. Last November, Benetti and Walton called the Maui Jim Maui Invitational during which the ex-Bruins center took some time to discuss obscure Hawaiian flowers, the breeding habits of whales and his favorite flavor (rainbow?). It makes sense, then, that this was how Benetti described Walton’s broadcasting style once this partnership was officially announced.
“Doing a game with Bill Walton is a gift,” said Benetti. “His mind is a playground, an orchestra and a volcano all rolled into one. It is impossible to think of someone who takes the audience and his broadcast partner on more of a journey through the world, and to have that next to me is an honor and a treat.”
The journey that Walton took the viewers on Friday included praising the Viagra slogan (in reality, he was thinking of the famous “erection for four hours” warning), bragging about knowing the difference between Slovenia and Slovakia, calling a 2-0 lead “insurmountable,” asking why Mike Trout doesn’t bat every time (a fair question), and willing a White Sox grand slam into existence.
For the rest of Walton’s highlights from the evening, because honestly who cares that Mike Trout tied his career-high in homers last night, White Sox Talk put together a delightful compilation for your viewing pleasure, with a bonus apology from the former Clipper for “ruining” Benetti’s broadcast.
This was all just another reminder that this is Bill Walton’s world, and we’re all just living in it.
h/t Chris and Joe