This just in: Bill Walton is kind of a weird guy.
Sunday's New York Times Magazine offers the latest evidence. In a profile timed to the release of Walton's new memoir, journalist Sam Anderson sits down with the former Trail Blazers center—who brings his own chair—to talk about the injuries that wrecked his career, and the philosophy animating his effusive college-basketball TV broadcasts.
But mostly they make lists. Lists of Walton's heroes, lists of Grateful Dead musicians, lists of Oregon rivers.
That last list of waterways provides the key to Anderson's understanding of Walton. It's an illuminating scene:
One of the best conversations Walton and I had during our two days together consisted entirely of listing the rivers in Oregon.
“Willamette River,” I said, speculatively.
“Willamette River,” he confirmed. And then he added: “McKenzie River.”
“McKenzie River,” I said.
“Santiam River,” he said.
“Columbia River,” I said.
“Nestucca River,” he said, gaining momentum. “Little Nestucca River.”
“Illinois River,” I said.
“Metolius River,” he said. “John Day River. Deschutes River.”
After a while, I realized that this was not just a verbal tic but actually something profound, another way that Walton manages to wrench himself out of everyday reality and into the sacred flow — these vast lists allow him to create his own company, his own surroundings, no matter where his injured body happens to be. It is proper nouns as virtual reality.
Read the full piece here.