Bill Walton had some doozies Thursday from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a rocking chair to Lute Olson being the 21st century version of John Wooden.
After ESPN play-by-play guy Dave Pasch — who took some good-natured jabs at Walton — pointed out that UCLA was ranked 131st in the nation in rebound margin, Walton said: “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is looking at that stat and is just spinning around in his rocking chair on his porch in Santa Monica.”
Walton said of Olson when the monitor showed the legendary Arizona coach in the stands: “Lute Olson is the 21st century version of John Wooden.” For the record, Olson coached most of his games in the 20th century, when Wooden coached the Bruins. Olson achieved 598 of his 781 career victories from 1973-1999.
Walton trended on Twitter during the UCLA-Arizona broadcast, won by his alma mater 84-73 over No. 6 Arizona at McKale Center. The reason for the trend was fans and media reacting to his unconventional color commentary during the ESPN2 broadcast. Arizona fans were especially annoyed. The Wildcats’ two losses this season — against Oregon and UCLA — have occurred when Walton was the color commentator with Pasch doing the play-by-play.
Pasch informed Walton that he was trending on Twitter. That was one moment in the game when Walton became silent. Pasch told Walton in jest that he does not care about about trending.
“I care about everything because I’m proud and I’m loyal,” Walton responded.
During the broadcast it became more obvious that Walton does not care about UCLA coach Ben Howland’s game management. He criticized Howland last week for calling too many timeouts and plays instead of just letting his talented players play.
Walton was openly critical of Howland’s usage of timeouts and substitution patterns Thursday night. He used the word “inexplicably” at least 10 times when referring to Howland sitting star freshman wing player Shabazz Muhammad early in the first half after Muhammad scored seven points.
“You’re taking him out?!” Walton exclaimed. “Goodness gracious. He’s played perfect! And he can’t be tired. He’s a teenager!”
Walton, a Hall of Fame player whose son Luke Walton played at Arizona, was also critical of UA coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats’ offensive execution.
“Wild! … Where’s the discipline? The structure? How does Arizona expect to win, please?” Walton said late in the game after an Arizona turnover that led to a UCLA basket.
Walton went so far as to say: “Sean Miller is a better coach than that.”
Finally — this blog could go another 50 paragraphs describing Walton’s commentary — Walton ended the broadcast by giving UCLA a lofty distinction. It was the Bruins’ first road victory against a ranked team in five years.
“This win for UCLA is one of the most impressive wins in the history of the program,” Walton proclaimed.
Wooden, who coached the Bruins to 10 national titles, might be spinning around in his grave over that one.
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner