Bill Walton played 80 regular season games for the Boston Celtics during the 1985-86 season. Prior to that season, he had never played more than 67, and he had only reached that milestone once. In fact, on more than one occasion Walton went the entire season without ever suiting up.
All told, injuries cost Walton more than 5 and 1/2 seasons of professional basketball. Yet except for a sprained wrist and a broken tooth, Walton was the picture of health for more than 8 months during the Celtics last championship run, and, if you count playoff and exhibition games, the big red head actually eclipsed the century mark in games played.
After the title was in hand, Walton's body returned to it's old, brittle self that had been its hallmark since his days at UCLA. Prior to the 1986-87 season, Walton got injured riding a stationary bike, underwent surgery, and then spent the season rehabbing. He returned to play a smidgen down the stretch, but was totally ineffective.
And, then, poof, just like that his career was over.
Smell something fishy about his health and good fortune in 1985-86?
A cabal of my friends and I did, too.
Based on our suspicions, we have postulated a theory.
We know that during the summer of 1985, Bill Walton, a native Californian, paid Jerry West a visit in anticipation of becoming a free agent. After seeing his X-rays, West told Walton "no thanks."
Despondent, Walton turned to his hippie friends for solace. Together they held a séance in his garage, with incense burning and members of the Greatful Dead playing music to summon up assistance from the netherworld.
It wasn't long before Walton was confronted by a dark and shadowy figure, a figure resembling a cross between Curtis Rowe, Vin Baker, and Rick Pitino.
"Bill, you are one of the greatest basketball players who has ever roamed the hardwood. You have been blessed. However, no man is given unlimited blessings, and your well has now run dry. "
"No, no. I have some great basketball left in me. I will do anything to play just one more season, to win one more championship."
"As long as the season ends in a championship, yes, anything. "
"In that case, Bill, here is the proposition: You will go to work for the Boston Celtics. You will have a season for the ages, and so will the Celtics. You will win individual and team awards, and become enmeshed as a beloved member of the Celtics family. At the end of the season, the Celtics will walk off the court as champions for the 16th time."
"After that, your body will return to it’s steady decline into oblivion, and the Celtics will begin a spiraling descent in the same direction."
"Understood. Any other conditions?"
"Yes, you will begin to do my bidding."
"I need a platform. I have things I need to say. You people on earth sugar-coat everything. You're going to change all that. So, for starters, you'll go to work for the television networks as a broadcaster, and repeat every obnoxious thing that comes into my mind. After that, I'm not sure. We'll have to play it by ear. We've got a couple of different directions we can go."