May 13, 2009
There have been suspensions, flagrant 1s, flagrant 2s, plenty of technicals, and a litany of no-calls. The Bulls and Celtics played 42 overtimes, LeBron James(notes) nearly averaged a point per minute, Kobe Bryant(notes) let Shane Battier(notes) know -- incessantly -- that he couldn't guard him, and Mark Cuban shared some insights with a member of Kenyon Martin's(notes) family in a manner most unappealing.
It's been fun, it's been frank, and it's barely half over.
But it's missing something.
The playoffs are missing Bill Walton. The playoffs need Bill Walton. The playoffs just aren't the same without Bill Walton.
He talks endlessly. He pontificates without provocation. His chatter is beyond reason, but often quite reasonable. He is everything that is good and great and wonderful and wacky about this game, and I miss his voice, terribly.
The latest news about Bill is what we'd heard about a year ago. He's at home in San Diego, recovering from some back issues, ready to return to ESPN as soon as his body will let him. Of course, he was ready to jump back to the Trail Blazers, the Clippers, and the Celtics as soon as his body would let him. You're allowed to curse out loud, at this point, dear reader. Understand that I'm doing the same.
Now, you have to take Bill's on-air work with a giant grain of salt. A rock the size of Maurice Lucas, if we're honest. But that's because, as fun as this game is and as much as we enjoy reveling in its glory, you still have to entertain yourself. And given the vicissitudes of the game and the downright boredom that can sometime result from an 18-second pause between the first and second free throw well the sweat is mopped up and Joey Crawford tells the players for the seventh time, "on the release," Bill tends to throw things out there to entertain himself.
"The worst entry pass in the history of Western Civilization." That's a popular one.
"Where would the Clippers be without Sean Rooks?" You know the drill.
And, if your sense of humor is on point, his batch of keeping his own mind busy can be awfully entertaining. If you're along for the ride, awesome. And if you're not? So it goes. You get the feeling that -- and I'm hardly calling the man indifferent or uncaring -- Bill doesn't mind if you're not. He's been through too damn much to care. And he likely doesn't give a rip what you think about the small picture of a djembe on his home page.
So, yes, it's a tired, well-worn refrain. Get well soon, Bill.
(But, seriously, we mean it this time. Get back behind that mic. The game, as great as it is, isn't the same without you.)