What’s worse than watching Arkansas getting hammered in an NIT game with a 10:15 p.m. tip? Listening to Bill Walton’s color commentary of said game.
Arkansas was in its atrocious
road form, losing to California 75-64 in a game that ended early Tuesday morning. As bad as the Hogs were, Walton was worse. From the opening tip, the former UCLA star seemed like he’d rather talk about anything but basketball. He referenced javelinas twice, cuddly lap dogs, hiking in Utah, lunch spots in Berkeley and the list goes on and on and on.
When UA forward Alandise Harris inadvertently caught Cal big man David Kravish with a foot to the groin on a dunk, Walton asked broadcast partner Roxy Bernstein, “What is Kravish’s girlfriend’s name again?” (Bernstein had referenced her earlier).
During his “Walton’s World” segment, the former NBA All-Star highlighted different UA figures, but for some reason included former NBA great Scottie Pippen, who played at Central Arkansas and not UA. Walton did point that out but included the NBA Hall of Famer anyway, even though Hogs legend Corliss Williamson was in Haas Pavilion watching the game. A “Big Nasty” mention may have been more appropriate than Pippen. Later in the broadcast, the ESPN cameras caught Williamson in the crowd.
There were a couple basketball-related notes Walton hammered home in between animal references. He REALLY admires former UA coach Nolan Richardson and current Hogs coach Mike Anderson for the uptempo style of play (“40 Minutes of Heck” as Walton called it), he thinks Arkansas is talented but not skilled and says Razorbacks freshman forward Bobby Portis ranks among the better big men he’s seen this year.
That, in a nutshell, covers his hoops analysis for the two-hour broadcast. Arkansas trailed by nearly 20 points in the second half, and that’s when Walton’s schtick was the worst. However, when the Hogs made a furious comeback to get within 10 with just more than four minutes left, all Walton could point out was he didn’t think Arkansas had a player that would step up down the stretch and lead the comeback.
That point was maybe his most astute of the night. Arkansas shot poorly and never could get in rhythm. They looked like a completely different team than the unit that won at Kentucky. They reverted back to the way they played at Alabama to end the regular season and other abysmal road trips during the season.
As for Walton, I don’t know what his excuse is. Maybe some bad pregame brownies? It’s been awhile since I’ve watched him since I don’t normally stay up late enough to view ESPN Pac-12 games. The one Pac-12 game I watched this season was Arizona State’s upset win against Arizona. However, I watched it in a sports bar with the sound muted. Thank God.
I remember Walton fondly when he did NBA games on NBC in the 90s with Steve “Snapper” Jones. The two sparred back and forth but were entertaining and Walton actually analyzed the game. That’s not the case now. Walton and Bernstein (Yes, he is a guy, a Cal grad and fixture in the Bay Area media.) are like a bad two-man comedy act. When Walton talked about his dog chasing another’s tail (Yes, he did cover that subject for what seemed liked 20 minutes) Bernstein said, “So, he chases tail?” Ba. Bump. Bump. Don’t forget to tip your waiters and waitresses ladies and gentlemen.
A horrible road performance made even worse by the most awkward broadcast team in college basketball.