Bill Walton's work ethic and love for UA evident on the road

Bill Walton, color commentator for Pac-12 Network and ESPN, takes a few moments to converse with Saul Bookman about his start in broadcasting, life and the fortunes of being able to watch Arizona men's basketball.

BOULDER, COLO.--It is 9:45 am in the rocky mountains as Bill Walton walks into the Coors Event Center for Saturday’s men’s basketball matchup between No. 14 Arizona and host Colorado. His wild takes and personality is controversial in the sense that you either love what he speaks about or don’t. But what is lost is the meticulous preparation that goes into each and every game from the former NBA champion.

Walton prepares for each game in various ways to provide a colorful broadcast whether it includes basketball or not. Describing the stars through the Sonoran desert or what makes the University of Utah a solar standout, it really doesn’t matter, if he finds it interesting it will come out. 

“I love knowledge and I am a huge believer that science and facts and technology are our key to a better tomorrow,” Walton said. “And to grow up in a culture, where my parents, it was all about education.”

Simon Asher
Announcer Bill Walton looks over pregame stats before he calls the UA-Colorado game.

Walton detailed people such as former UCLA head coach John Wooden, former Los Angeles Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn as being influential in his life in a way that had a profound impact. More importantly, his parents were not sports fans and by default encouraged other endeavors. The renaissance aspect of Walton can not be undermined. His life has been filled with knowledge from the likes of music, nature and sports, with none being more important than the other.

He also is a big fan of the direction of the campus at Arizona, saying that President Robert Robbins and Athletic Director Dave Heeke have a vision that he loves and agrees with as it relates to providing the future of the world.

A proponent of the Pac-12 or the “Conference of Champions”, as he loves to proclaim on the broadcasts of both the conference networks and ESPN, Walton has a passion for basketball and what it does for young people.

“Basketball is really a window to the world,” Walton said. “…To see what Sean Miller is able to do to take these young men and build them up. Over the course of the years that I get to see them play, this current crop, to see what Dusan Ristic has been able to do, Allonzo Trier and PJC (Parker Jackson-Cartwright)…and then over the course of time to see them grow up and become men and to go out into the world and to see what the University of Arizona has meant to the entire world.”

Simon Asher
Bill Walton, known for his career at UCLA during the John Wooden years, will call the UA-Colorado game on Saturday, January 6.

Walton expressed his enjoyment of watching the game he loves, fortunate to be around after years of pain due to injuries from his long career in basketball. He said he has had well over 30 surgeries but is no longer in pain, able to watch the game with enjoyment and provide color the only way he knows how.

The enthusiasm is infectious, so is his perspective. Acknowledging how fortunate is one thing, placing everything in a positive light is quite another, and that is where Walton is unique. His physical battles over, the fortune to be able to share life with his loving wife and his outlook on the good in humanity is part of the Walton experience. This is also the reason why he is beloved by many, often taking time after games to stand with fans and pose for pictures, never turning any one away. Walton himself can only summarize his life currently.

“I am the lucky guy, I was here,” Walton said.

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