Bill Walton Done With Broadcasting: Good or Bad?

Thanks to a chronic back condition that prevented him from traveling, Bill Walton announced his official retirement today from broadcasting. Walton was as polarizing a figure as has ever existed in the sport of basketball, on and off-court.

Brooks Bill Walton Stephen A Smith

Bill Walton retired from broadcasting today, will you miss him on NBA telecasts

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(Okay, maybe that was a little much)

With the news of his departure, I’m guessing there are many out there who are relieved that he won’t be injecting NBA broadcasts with his obligatory hyperbole. But I’m not one of those people. Read more…

The “Bill Walton Redemption Tour” Has Begun

In case you hadn’t noticed, we haven’t exactly heard from Bill Walton very much recently. The normally gregarious, verbose NBA fixture has been out of the public spotlight recently, and it’s owing to rehab from spinal fusion surgery, a procedure that’s every bit as agonizing as it sounds.

Luke and Bill Walton
(Still no apology to Lakers fans for the Luke Walton era?)

Walton’s first appearance came in Portland, of all places; while one without any prior knowledge might think he’d be one of the city’s favorite sons, there’s actually qute a bit of animosity there, as injuries marred the former #1 pick’s career with the Blazers before an ugly dispute with the Portland front office led to Walton sitting the 1978-79 season out while awaiting a trade.

That’s not a healthy way to leave a situation, of course, and after 30 years, Walton apparently felt the time was right to make amends.

Read more…

Oops, Double Jeopardy For Kareem Abdul Jabbar

One would think that Kareem Abdul Jabbar answering a “Jeopardy” question about himself would be, excuse the expression, a slam dunk. Well, um … . Abdul-Jabbar was on Thursday’s episode of “Jeopardy,” where a full category was dedicated to his alma mater, UCLA. Kind of unfair to fellow contestants Soledad and Michael there, but OK.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar on Jeopardy

And to make matters even more interesting, Kareem’s first question also involved the movie “Airplane!”, in which he played prickly co-pilot Roger Murdock. Surely he couldn’t get this one wrong.

He could. And please don’t call me Shirley.

Video following the jump. Read more…

Brog: ABC Might Want To Freshen Up NBA Display

I’m happy to report that I’m back in Los Angeles for the summer, after five delightful days driving from Miami. First day back, I was at Game 5 of the NBA Finals, which extended the inevitable Boston series triumph by at least one more 48-minute epoch (has a team ever looked worse in a win than Sunday @ Staples?)

Brooks Bill Walton Stephen A Smith

Before the game, I waited for Jerry Buss to pull up with a limo-full of teenie strippers drank in the *electric* atmosphere outside the arena, which featured a chance to admire an embarrassingly outdated display of ABC NBA broadcasters. Best part: Getting to let Stephen A. know how the vast majority of respirating, bipedal NBA fans felt about his past on-air contribution.

Mike Tirico Jeff Van Gundy

The fan photo-op broadcast desk was part of an RV-display that featured cutouts of ABC’s NBA broadcast team, which as you can imagine had passing fans bursting with excitement. One small detail: Smith and Bill Walton aren’t on ABC’s coverage of the NBA Finals.

Staples Center Parking

It’s also nice to see the (Celtics-operated?) Staples-area parking guys weren’t in a mood to gouge Game 5 attendees. Let’s see, buy a quarter-tank of gas, or park for the game?

I traveled around Los Angeles (Pasadena down to Venice) quite a bit yesterday to acquaint myself with how my town was feeling before the game. I was surprised. No car flags, no lines outside of sports bars, no buzz. I know it was Father’s Day, and the Lakers were down 3-1, but I expected at least some excitement around town. But it’s been exceedingly flaccid, especially compared to the early ’90s championship Shaq-n-Kobe era.

Apparently, the country is similarly laissez-faire. The ratings have been better than last year’s putrid numbers, but as Barry Horn of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS wrote, “(ESPN/ABC and the NBA) dreamed of a return to double-digit ratings with Lakers-Celtics, but the numbers have been a disappointment. America knew Michael Jordan. Apparently, Kobe Bryant is no Michael Jordan.

Rocco Mediate as a poker player, from WICKED CHOPS POKER:

Rocco Mediate Poker

More golf coverage after the jump … Read more…

Walton Looks To Join Bill as Father & Son Champs

As the NBA Finals get back underway tonight, Luke Walton is hoping his Lakers can reel off three more wins to claim this year’s title - and in doing so, allow li’l Luke to join dad Bill in some elite company.

Luke and Bill Walton

Chris Tomasson of the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS points out that in the 6o-year existence of the National Basketball Association, only two sets of fathers & sons have both captured championship rings - Matt Guokas Sr. & Jr. and Rick & Brent Barry.

And now Luke is looking to become part of the exclusive club, to embrace the satisfaction of earning such a special achievement - and to be able to shut his dad up: Read more…

Blog-Some: Kevin’s Faulked With Marijuana Arrest

• WITH LEATHER isn’t so high on Kevin Faulk, as the Pats RB got busted for being buzzed on the Bayou.

Kevin Faulk

• You know LL Cool J? (Emmitt Smith doesn’t.) Well, ODENIZED says hello to SYOLL Cool J: Sixty-Year-Old Ladies Love Cool Joakim.

• PRO FOOTBALL TALK wonders if kicker Olindo Mare was cut by the Saints for failing a physical - or for failing to take a pay cut?

Read more…

Blog-A-Roni: Shaq Says Bill Broke ‘Big Man Code’

WITH LEATHER, via AOL FANOUSE, uploads video of Shaq calling out Bill Walton for breaking the “Big Man Code”:

• RANDBALL asks that we all hail Wally Szczerbiak’s new son, Maximus.

• THE 700 LEVEL finally found a reason to show up for a Sixers game - a Mr. Potatohead giveaway!

Read more…

NBA Ref’s New Book Blows Whistle On Mob Work

An NBA referee comes out with a new book detailing his past adventures working undercover with the mafia:

Bob Delaney NBA ref book cover

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED chats with Bob Delaney, a 20-year court veteran and former New Jersey state trooper, who writes about his experiences with Tony Sparano…er, Tony Soprano types in “Covert: My Years Infiltrating The Mob.”

The book, targeted for a February release, describes Delaney’s three-year saga as an undercover cop in the 1970s. His dangerous work helped bring in 30 members of the Bruno and Genovese crime families. But it also brought about feelings of guilt for turning in people he became very close to, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Read more…

Frank Caliendo Does Quite A Good Charles Barkley

FRANK CALIENDO’S BARKLEY IMPRESSION GETS CHUCKLES: We earlier wrote how “Frank TV”, the show promoted non-stop during TBS’s baseball playoff coverage, would only air for four episodes.

Now it turns out they might be worth watching, after all:

(Fun starts at 1:01) 

YOU BEEN BLINDED alerts us to a clip of Frank Caliendo impersonating Charles Barkley. And it’s not just a clip from his show; Frankie had the basketballs to do it in front of Sir Charles himself.

After a minute of a “Frank TV” clip, Caliendo appears in the NBA on TNT studio with Barkley, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith. And right away, Frank launches in to the impression.

Frank Caliendo impersonate Charles Barkley

TNT even went so far as to dress up Frank as Sir Charles for part of his chrome-dome entertainment.

And we have to admit, Caliendo’s send-up is pretty damn funny. What makes it more hilarious is Barkley’s reaction throughout, which was basically this:

Not many chuckles came from Chuck. Even after Frank’s first words, Charles was already showing displeasure: “Alright, that’s how bad stuff happen around here.”

The full clip lasts just over 8 minutes, and Frank throws in his usual mimicking of John Madden & George W. Bush, while adding a new funny favorite - Bill Walton.

Charles Barkley Frank Caliendo

But the Barkley impression itself makes up for all the tiresome TV spots we had to endure during the Rockies’ miracle postseason run.

Frank, we forgive you. For now.

Photo: USC Song Girl Getting Treatment From World’s Luckiest Trainer

• TROJAN WIRE gets a leg up on the world’s luckiest trainer:

USC cheerleader trainer

• GHOSTS OF WAYNE FONTES wants to know what’s in it for them, as they sign up for incentive-based sports contracts.

• JEN’S FREE THROWS is all wet, as Greg Oden hits the pool for his rehab.

• SONS OF SAM MALONE checks the calendar, as FOX SPORTS forgets that 2004 ever happened:

Fox Sports Curse Headline

• SPORTS MEDIA WATCH knows it will be a scary Halloween, as ESPN’s NBA analysts for that night are scheduled to be Stuart Scott, Stephen A. Smith and Bill Walton.

• YOU BEEN BLINDED showcases Serena “Sugar Fly” Williams.

• STORMING THE FLOOR takes a big look at the little guys, as they preview the mid-majors:

Gonzaga basketball look

• EPIC CARNIVAL misses their assignment, as Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez will block for you when he wants to.

• If Joe Torre needs employment, the minor league Brockton Rox are happy to oblige.

• CAJUN BOY IN THE CITY doesn’t recall comparing LSU coach Les Miles to Ronald Reagan:

Les Miles Ronald Reagan

• ICE NETWORK isn’t lying through their teeth when they say they have an interview with Nancy Kerrigan.

• Eva’s marriage to the Spurs’ MVP may be for keeps, as EXPO SAY learns that the “Desperate Housewives” star will now go by Eva Longoria Parker.