Bill Walton came into the NBA with a massive reputation as possibly the most skilled big man ever. And it was arguably true. He wasn’t as strong as Wilt Chamberlain or as elegant as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but overall, the only guy who could challenge his skill set was Arvydas Sabonis.
Injuries derailed his career of course and his championship run with the Trailblazers was peak Walton. He never regained that level of greatness.
Playing for the Celtics at the end of his career revived him though, mostly because he was playing with Larry Bird and basketball-wise, those guys were really kindred spirits.
As we’ve learned since, Walton is nothing if not a talker and here he talks extensively about what he loved about playing with Bird and tells a great story about being way down to the Hawks on the road.
Part of the story is a ramble about the late great KC Jones (Bird says that part is a crock) but after halftime, when the Celtics came back out, Bird was going to take the ball out and before he did, he kind of shoved it in the ref’s gut and snarled: “We’re not going to quit,” he told him, “so you make sure you don’t quit either.”
Then he hit 11 straight shots to put Boston right back in the game.
This video is from the same session. The guy between Walton and Bird is former teammate Joe Kleine, who tells a hilarious story about Bird even talking trash to his own teammates.