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Larry Bird HOF Speech (Find Waldo Part III)
As I mentioned last night, Larry Bird asked one player and one player only to join him on the stage for his special night to remember. Bill Walton. Walton also introduced Robert Parish on the Chief's special night. On the night Kevin McHale was inducted, he spent a good portion of the evening directing comments at or about Bill Walton, who was seated nearby in front of him.
What's the deal with Bill Walton? I mean, the guy only played one full season with the Green? Why is there so much respect, love, and camaraderie with the one I've always called Mountain Man?
Two things to know about Bill Walton: 1) Bob Ryan, who has seen more basketball than most of us combined, including having watched Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Lew Alcindor, and Dave Cowens, called Bill Walton the best pivot man in the history of the NBA, when healthy; 2) it's entirely possible that the original Big Three realize that not only did Bill Walton help make the 1985-86 season magical, his presence on the team is that squad's best argument for immortality.
Picture all the great teams gathered in Heaven at some point in the future. Some teams will be talking 69 wins, some teams will be talking 72 wins. But only one team will boast a top 50 player, especially one that might be the best center in the history of basketball, coming off the bench. Well, of course, Bill Walton was Sixth Man of the Year that season. He was Bill Walton! That doesn't end the conversation among the all-time great teams, but it forever keeps that 1986 team in the discussion (it doesn't hurt that Larry Joe Bird may have been at the pinnacle of his powers).
One final thought for us all to chew on. I'm kind of glad Walton never really returned to the roster after getting hurt while on a stationary bike in the fall of 1986, other than his cameo appearance in 1987. His stint with the Celtics was a little bit like the time Led Zeppelin and the Beatles spent at the top. It was over in a hurry, whoosh, as Robert Plant once said. But if you were lucky enough to enjoy the ride, oh what a ride it was.
- #05 (Walton)
- #08 (Wedman)
- #12 (Sichting)
- 1971-72 Lakers
- 2007-08 Scores
- Banner 17
- Grassy Knoll Network
- Green Mile
- Larry & Magic
- NBA Scoreboard
- Russell v. Chamberlain
- Walton Gang (1977)