The New York Times has a piece about Bill Walton’s recovery from back surgery. Walton’s back pain had gotten so bad that he pondered suicide, and is just now starting to “climb back into the game of life.”
Walton climbing back into the game of life means that he’s back to kicking knowledge — and hyperbole — about basketball. He shows that he still knows his stuff… well, kinda.
When the subject was his health, Walton was generally solemn and measured. When the conversation turned to basketball, he was as energetic and opinionated as ever.
Walton predicted that the Boston Celtics would beat Cleveland and Orlando to make the finals. He called the Celtics’ Rajon Rondo the best point guard in the East, and said the Lakers’ Pau Gasol was “the best big man in basketball today.” He said LeBron James should play for free, to allow his team to surround him with better talent.
So, how right was Walton?
Rajon Rondo the best point guard in the East:
Check. I don’t think this can even be argued at this point. How could you, when Rondo can be utterly dominant offensively (especially in the playoffs) and is also on the NBA’s First Team All-Defense? Some nitwits might say Derrick Rose, but Rose can’t hold a candle to Rondo’s impact on the defensive end.
The Boston Celtics will beat Cleveland and Orlando to make the finals:
I hope. During the regular season, you would have had to be mentally deficient to make this argument. But now, as the Celtics turn on the after-burners in the playoffs, it is seeming more and more like a legitimate possibility.
Pau Gasol is “the best big man in basketball today”:
Well yeah, he’s the best big man in basketball… if you don’t consider Dwight Howard to be a big man. Additionally, one could make the argument that Pau isn’t as good as Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire, or Brian Scalabrine (just kidding with Scal.) Dirk Nowitzki, either, if you consider him a big man. And Chris Bosh is no slouch. Even if you think Gasol is better than all those other guys (and he might be — he’s damn good), no way he can touch Howard. Howard is too dominant defensively.
Lebron James should play for free:
In a perfect world, you’d like to think superstars making in excess of $90 million in endorsements alone should think about playing for free — or at least less than the max — to help their teams build around them. Of course, it will never happen. Not in a million years. I’m not saying it should happen, either: It’s tough to leave $20 million or so per year on the table.
As for the rest of the NY Times piece about Walton, continue reading at your own risk. If you keep reading the rest, you might actually start to like Luke Walton, and I know none of you want that.