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Scott Miller: Bill Walton was a force of nature

The Rich Eisen Show / Rich Eisen
The Truth Network Radio
May 27, 2024 4:37 pm

Scott Miller: Bill Walton was a force of nature

The Rich Eisen Show / Rich Eisen

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May 27, 2024 4:37 pm

5/27/24 - Hour 3

Happy Memorial Day.

Brian talks with Scott Miller who is a NY Times Sports Contributor.

Scott said that Bill Walton was a force of nature who's enthusiasm for everything was incredible.

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I'm living my best life. Yeah. This is the Rich Eisen Show. Here's the other surprising part. With guest host Brian Weber.

Yeah, big shoes to fill. Eisen's a legend. Live from the Rich Eisen Show studio in Los Angeles. The Rich Eisen Show. Do you know who I am? I'm a guy on television.

I have my own show. And now, sitting in for Rich, here's Brian Weber. Final hour of the program. We appreciate the company on this Memorial Day. Hope you're enjoying the holiday. If you have the day off, if you're working, take it easy, my man. Because you got to work tomorrow, the day after, the day after. Now, the good news when you're a guest host is, I have a one day work week. So, I'm going to empty the bucket over the next sixty minutes.

I know. It's my Friday. Rich is back tomorrow with the fellas.

So, be sure to keep it where it is and check out the outstanding simulcast on the Roku channel. Undeniably, Rich will weigh in with thoughts on the subject we've been covering in detail for the last forty-five minutes or so. The sad announcement coming from the NBA that Bill Walton has passed away at the age of seventy-one. I'll continue to offer more perspective on the life and legacy of a unique figure on and off the court. Coming up in twenty minutes, we'll start thinking about the summer of LeBron. Is JJ Reddick really going to get that jab?

Primarily because LeBron says so. And then in forty minutes, since Memorial Day for decades was so closely connected to baseball, it is my duty and obligation. And I want to talk just a little bit of baseball in entertaining fashion because there's a ton to dissect. And we'll achieve that goal when we check in with Scott Miller, longtime baseball scribe. You can now read his work in the New York Times.

Also, I would dare say it's a wonderful Father's Day gift to pick up his book that he recently co-authored, Ninety Percent Mental. Plus, Scott has been connected to sports in San Diego for a long time and Bill Walton, born and raised and lived in San Diego for much of his life. So, I want to get back to Bill Walton for a few minutes here because the audience is always changing, especially at the top of the hour. And then in about ten minutes, more takeaways from what was a phenomenal game last night. If you're not watching the NBA Finals and you're thinking, hey, fill-in guy, whoever you are, projecting and over enunciating too much, we got two 3-0 series leads. We're on the brink of the first pair of conference sweeps we've ever had in the history of the NBA when it comes to the conference finals. NBA Finals can't start until June 6th.

Why are you selling me that these games are such a good watch? Well, because if you watch the games, especially the last few nights, think about how things have played out. You go back to Friday night, Mavs ripped the heart out of Minnesota.

I would close my eyes, but I'd bump my head into the microphone, but I'm trying to paint the word picture of Luca on one knee. This cat's been dealing with a serious knee issue that had him listed as a game-time decision last night. We knew he was going to play because that's what he does, but he's not close to being 100% physically. With that dagger shot late in the game, putting Rudy Gobert in the spin cycle with just seconds left. A reminder, that is Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Now, not the right situation for a big man to be out there on an island, but Luca absolutely carved up Minnesota. Following night, looks like Indy has a real chance to make it a series, even without Tyrese Halliburton.

Fellow named Andrew Nevard, if you follow college basketball, you remember him capping his career in Gonzaga. He's looking like Larry Bird, not the coach in Indiana, but the player for the Celtics. Celtics come all the way back, primarily because of Drew Holliday and big situations. And then last night, Minnesota finally shows up in the third quarter. That game is tied going to the fourth.

They have opportunities late. Best game by far amongst the three for the emerging superstar in Anthony Edwards, but he got no help from Karl Anthony Towns, who could not buy a three. 0-8 from three-point range, and it comes down to just a handful of plays. And that really is a reflection of how tight this series has been.

These teams separated by a total of 13 points. Luca buries just an absolutely insane shot with a couple minutes to go. P.J. Washington with a three. Kyrie a tough corner three on a fadeaway. And it was, of all people, the acquisition along with P.J. Washington, just prior to the deadline, middle of the year. Daniel Gafford has been such an impactful two-way player.

He came up with a block in the closing seconds and then caught the lob pass from Luca to throw it down. And Dallas has a stranglehold lead over Minnesota. But let's circle back to Bill Walton because he was such a transformational figure across not only college basketball, but the NBA. And the NBA's impact extended far beyond the court.

But if you're old enough, and I realize that I'm trying to sell it like I'm hanging out with you, TikTokers. But if you're paying attention, most of my references are, at best, mid-90s. And I was lucky to grow up in the late 70s, early 80s, when the NBA came alive. So I was a hoop fan in hardcore fashion from about the age of 9 or 10. And the one monkey trick I had in the pre-Google universe was, if I read something, I remembered it.

Not a photographic memory, but a good recall. So I love basketball history. I vaguely remember Walton playing for Portland.

I don't remember watching that series, which I'm guessing was tape delay, right? 1977, because we know that was the case for the Finals when Magic arrived and changed everything for the Lakers in that chapter of their glorious history. But I did know, certainly, who Bill Walton was when he arrived in Boston as a sixth man, because he had been gone. And learning more about reading the history of the NCAA Finals and all of the achievements that Bill teamed up with John Wooden to accomplish continuing that dynasty, they were literally unbeatable for long stretches, undefeated seasons.

One of the greatest players in the history of college basketball wins the title with a Blazers 77. Looks like he's going to be a Kareem figure, someone who had equal success in the NBA as he did on the college level and unfortunately just could not stay healthy. Dealt with so many foot injuries when we talk about the what-ifs, and Walton checked a lot of boxes, primarily with what he did early important, I'm just talking about the NBA career, and then picking up the second ring as a role player for the Celtics in the 80s.

But you hear in modern basketball, and I'm in the camp that maybe I said when they were coming out Greg Oden would be a better NBA player than Kevin Durant, go burn the tape, but unfortunately Oden just couldn't stay healthy. Sam Bowie just couldn't stay healthy. Didn't help that he and Michael Jordan were in the same draft class. And that was the issue for Bill. But that was only one part of his life. This was a dynamic person who had so many interests, and he would often get those references into the broadcast, whether you liked it or not, but that's what made him unique because he was well read, because he was well traveled, because he was interesting and interested in things beyond the hardwood.

So he becomes a broadcaster despite having a lifelong stutter all the way into the NBA, and he worked hard to overcome that challenge. He's doing local broadcast here in Southern California, and I'm Brian Weber in for Rich Eisen as we continue on the Rich Eisen Show radio network, and I'm sitting at the Rich Eisen Show desk furnished by Grainger with supplies and solutions for every industry. Grainger has the right product for you.

Call or just stop by. I remember watching them when I would visit friends here in Southern California. Great local broadcast. Walton, the big redhead alongside, oh, bingo, Ralph Lawler. He parlays that into the national career. I was talking about it in the last hour of the program with Mike Vorkanov of The Athletic. Walton and Steve Snapper-Jones were absolutely sensational because they were former teammates, and it felt like you were sitting in on one of their conversations in the back of the bus.

They would go back and forth and also break down the game in stellar fashion. And then Walton becomes effectively an ambassador for college basketball, and every game he shows up at becomes part of that long, strange trip. And now you've got another generation of young fans who, with the ability, thanks to YouTube, can watch the games but didn't know who he was in large measure as a player, but they gravitated towards him because he was so unique, so exuberant, so passionate, and he's gone so young. Just 71 years old, Bill Walton, two-time NBA champion, Hall of Famer, and beyond all of that, one of the most iconoclastic. We talk about icons?

There's another word, iconoclastic, meaning unique, one of a kind. They broke the mold. I think all of that applies to Bill Walton.

So we send our thoughts and condolences to his family. No easy segue to make here, so let's talk about one of Bill's former teams. I mentioned he won that championship with Larry Bird, Mikel Parrish, Dennis Johnson.

Should I continue? Danny Ainge, Jerry Sheasting, Greg Kite. It's amazing. This stuff gets stuck in your head from 40 years ago, and you know it more than what you had for lunch yesterday. Celtics certainly have had things align properly to potentially get to an NBA Finals berth as soon as tonight, doing it almost as efficiently as we've ever seen.

Now, this is not faux, faux, faux. To go back to Moses Malone in 83, remember the Sixers lost the game. It wasn't perfect. It was actually 13 games required on their way to the title, different format then. Didn't have to play as many games as the modern NBA with the expanded playoffs. But Boston has been rolling through the opposition, even though occasionally they've made it more difficult at times than need be. Losing Game 2 at home to the Heat. Remember the Heat didn't have Jimmy Butler. Losing Game 2 in Round 2 at home to Cleveland. Then Cleveland wouldn't have Donovan Mitchell after that towards the tail end of the series. And the fluctuations game by game, really half by half, in this series against the Pacers have been fascinating. And it would all have a very different feeling if Indy simply had been able to finalize in Game 1. They had that Game 1.

And yes, Boston deserves their flowers, as you young people like to say. Props, credit, acknowledgement for finding a way back. But if Tyrese Halliburton doesn't have that dribbling miscue in about a minute left, if Rick Carlisle calls a timeout with 10 seconds to go, and the Pacers inbound at midcourt, even if they have the turnover, it's not as ghastly as what actually happened because the Celtics had the chance, knocking you free in the backcourt, to inbound off the baseline.

And then you know what happened next. It's a corner three. Jalen Brown's got it. We're going overtime. So that's a game Indy should have won. Game 2, Boston flexes their muscle. And then Game 3, and maybe I was the only one watching that game. I don't blame you if you have a long holiday weekend in front of you and you've got better plans than sitting on the couch soaking in the greatness of the NBA. But that's another game the Pacers flat out lost.

They were up by 18 over the Celtics, and they were doing it without their best player. No Tyrese Halliburton, no problem. Now, I'm not doing the lame talk show exercise of is Indy better than they are when they have a healthy Tyrese Halliburton.

Give me a call at 844-204-7424. Is the future of the franchise connected to Andrew Nebhard? But somehow, someway, and we see this occasionally, when teams know they have no margin for error, especially understanding if, in fact, what happened was going to be the outcome, and they fell behind Boston three games to none. No team in the history of the NBA has overcome that deficit. They let it all hang out, and everything was clicking, and they still had a great chance to win the game late, even when it was tied.

But they didn't have an answer for Drew Holliday on the offensive end, which is a rarity. I know he played well in Game 1, but he hit that critical late bucket, and then he backed up his reputation of being one of the steeliest defenders in all of hoops when he picked the pocket of Nebhard. And I know Rick Carlisle wanted the foul called. I don't know why Rick Carlisle didn't call a timeout prior to that.

Quick sidebar. And I understand Phil Jackson made that part of his overall MO. Never would call timeout. I think even Phil would have called a timeout in that situation.

And I understand in the moment you think you might have the advantage by catching the other team in a bad set defensively, trying to get back in transition. I get the logic, but given the gravity of that moment and not having Halliburton, what in the world is Carlisle doing? Why aren't you calling a timeout there? He readily admitted postgame, and I think it was a piece of smart coaching, after the debacle of Game 1 that it was on him.

In fact, he said blame me because he didn't call the timeout. Game 2, after Halliburton went down, he absolutely waved the white flag. And we've seen it repeatedly not only throughout the entire postseason, but just the conference finals.

A 15-18 point lead isn't safe because the opposition has come back time and time again. Boston just did it in Game 3. I don't know why, other than trying to rest the legs of the guys he knew were going to have to carry the team without Halliburton. And Halliburton had already missed a stretch of games in January because of the hamstring injury. It felt like Carlisle, while trying to weigh the pros and cons of that tactical move, he tapped out.

And I don't think the outcome was going to be different, but we'll never know because they didn't try. So that's another puzzling move made by a heck of a coach who's one of, what, a dozen players to win an NBA title, both as a player in Boston with Larry Bird, and as a coach in Dallas as the man who's trying to make it back to the NBA Finals. So their head coach has not done them any favors.

Indy has had no ability to finalize, and I guess some were in there. We should give Boston credit for being the best team, the most complete team in the regular season. And we're seeing it again in these playoffs, doing it all without Porzingis. So as we start to look ahead to a Celtics-Mavericks matchup in the Finals, I'm not going on a huge limb here, but all of the star power wattage matchup-by-matchup kind of analysis is going to go instantly and justifiably so to the backcourt because we saw it again with Luca having 33 and Kyrie having 33 last night. Yes, that was, I think, the inflection point in the matchup, but it certainly didn't help Minnesota that they got nothing from Karl-Anthony Towns. Tough to win when you don't have support for your superstar, and Anthony Edwards finally elevated his game. I know we struggled from the floor. Ten to 23 isn't great, but he had 24 points, playing the best kind of hoops we've seen since he was instrumental in the first half of Game 7 on the road in Denver.

Remember, it was his teammates, notably Rudy Gobero, who picked him up to pull off that upset. But as we're going to have a ton of time prior to the start of the NBA Finals on June 6th, the Talking Heads shows are going to go all in with Kyrie's revenge tour heading back to Boston. And if you are the Celtics, who do you have more apprehension in facing? It's pick your poison.

Who do you target? And the answer should be Luca because he's been more consistent. But we've seen Kyrie now playing at the same kind of level that he demonstrated in 2016 when he was more important Game 7 than LeBron as Cleveland flipped the script and came all the way back to stun the Warriors. But if you're Boston, with your best lockdown defender being Holliday, are you putting him on Kyrie? Are you putting him on Luca? What are you doing from a team concept with switching?

And this is all very X's and O's. But we're going to have so much time to chop up this NBA Finals matchup at every possible angle that I do think the more intriguing, because that's the bright, shiny object, the more intriguing matchup is going to come in the paint. And let's just say Porzingis is able to go. He should be after another 10 days off.

Now he's got to get the rust out of the equation. How does he match up down low in addition to what Horford's been giving them at 120 years old against? Let's hope with the additional time that there's no lingering effect for what happened last night when Lively took the knee from Karl-Anthony Towns to the head. But you throw him in there with Gafford, P.J. Washington helping out. I think the matchup in the paint is even more interesting in terms of Boston and Dallas than what's going to be happening in the backcourt. I'm Brian Weber in for Rich Ozen. 844-204-7424.

About to check out the X-feed once more, so you can hit me up there. That's B.W. Weber, Weber with two Bs in 20 minutes. We wrap it up with gusto talking baseball with Scott Miller of the New York Times straight ahead. We'll keep the NBA momentum going. Is LeBron going to hit the free agent market this summer to make it all about LeBron? Financially, I understand the upside, but you can't tell me he would not enjoy also hijacking another season. So should we buckle up for another season filled with not only hot dogs and fireworks come the official start of summer, but the summer of LeBron, and is J.J. Redick really going to wind up coaching the Lakers primarily because he's LeBron's pal and podcast host? All that and more coming up. I'm Brian Weber in for Rich Ozen.

This is the Memorial Day edition of the Rich Ozen Show. Man, the Hoops Finals are right around the corner. How cool would it be to go to one of those games?

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Certainly when it's the biggest event around for Hoops, the finals. Take the guesswork straight out. Download the game time app, create an account, and use my code, Rich, and you get $20 off your first purchase. Terms apply. Visit for restrictions. Again, create an account and redeem my code, R-I-C-H, and you get $20 off your first purchase. Download game time today.

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I have no life. So B.W. Weber, Weber with two B's. I'll be checking out the game tonight as it should be closing time in Indy. Boston trying to make sure they have every ounce of possible rest time for the crew led by a hopefully healthier poor Zingas getting set for a 10-day layoff potentially prior to the NBA Finals starting on June 6th at 15 minutes. We wrap it up with style points, talking baseball on the holiday that for decades was synonymous with MLB.

Looking forward to checking in with Scott Miller of the New York Times. And since today is the unofficial start of summer, fill the grill and fire up the party. Get the Weber Sear Wood Pellet Grill, Smoke, Roast and Sear all on the same grill. Go from low and slow on smoke boost mode at 180 degrees all the way to high heat sear at 600 degrees. It's got a full great sear zone. So you can put more food on the flame. Food will look as good as it tastes. This grill is hot in just 15 minutes.

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Get fired up for your new Weber Sear Wood Pellet Grill. So since summer is unofficially upon us, feels like it's going to be the summer of LeBron. Dare I say we're on LeBron?

Watch, watch, watch, watch, watch. And as a veteran of fill-in shifts, I've had so many different summers dominated by so many stars. I'll go back to Kevin Durant going to the Hamptons. Remember that?

When the Warriors showed up as a group to recruit them? Yes, I've been doing this for a long time. But however you view LeBron, and you have to be a fool to try to critique him as a player in any way, if you don't enjoy everything he does or you find him to be inauthentic, even the most cynical LeBron basher would have to concede and acknowledge he is a brilliant businessman. As I try to tell less suburban, what's the line from Jay Z? I'm not a businessman.

I'm a businessman. Over a billion and climbing right now, and a chance to make more coming up this summer. So he has until June 29th to decide whether to opt into his final year of the contract. Everything points to, because there's more money to be made with the cap going up, especially with the new media deals about to kick in, opt out to get more money. But when he opts out, he's a free agent for the first time since he took his talents here to Southern California.

So there's a few interesting things that have popped up. And I watch the main TNT broadcast because I think Kevin Hartland is the best in the industry, love his delivery, love his gravitas, the sense of the magnitude of the moment. But since everyone's trying to rip off the Manning cast, TNT has an alternate broadcast, apparently.

I was not aware of that. And LeBron's longtime agent, Rich Paul, was a guest on one of their alternate shows the other day. And throughout in passing, he didn't say LeBron could be a free agent. He said as a statement, LeBron is a free agent. So is that semantics? Probably not.

Is that something done by design? Probably because no one has navigated the NBA financial side as well as he's navigated the court as LeBron. And I'm not doing the tired Mount Rushmore of NBA basketball. Guys, the all-time leading scorer, he's still playing at a high level, and he's not close to done.

So whether it's two years or three years in the future, and I think this dovetails nicely with the way that we tried to sum up the context of Rafael Nadal saying goodbye to Roland Garros today, knocked down the first round of straight sets by the four-seed Alexander Zverev, we should appreciate these guys while they're around because nothing lasts forever. But LeBron is not that close to the end, now barring your one dribble away from an Achilles or something else that's devastating. So what's going on with LeBron and his team?

They are calculating, they are shrewd, and they are very astute business people. So I think Rich just threw that out there, A, to get it into the news cycle, and yes, it'll be one of the topics coming up on all the talking head shows that weren't working today. I'm addressing it now, but I was planning on covering this topic irrespective of that nugget because I wanted to get into J.J. Redick potentially being the next head coach of the Lakers. So LeBron is primarily motivated by getting the additional dough he can generate by hitting the market. Lakers can then give him more years, and it'll add up to a few more bucks for a guy who's already a billionaire. And we always say, billion with a B.

That's page 37 of the broadcast handbook they give the film and host. In addition to that, as a free agent, he's got as much leverage as he can ever have. How does he translate that leverage into action? Well, why, other than LeBron's wishes, are we even talking about Bronny James as an NBA prospect?

Now, let's back up. I have nothing against his son. In fact, I went to grad school at USC. I've already mentioned my passion for the Pac-12, especially with the sad news of losing Bill Walton today. I watched Bronny play a lot.

He was a non-factor on a terrible team. But let's also remember, this young man had a major health challenge. It's no joke when you need a heart procedure.

It's no joke when you go through a cardiac event. So good for Bronny even to be back on the floor and be in the conversation to be drafted. But if he was Bronny Smith, he'd be playing another year at USC, he'd be in the portal, or he'd be heading down to the G League. But there's nothing wrong with having the advantages of the same DNA and last name of a transcendent talent like LeBron. So that's one way LeBron can flex. And Lakers have made it clear through the army of NBA insiders that they're willing to play ball. They got no problem, apparently, with blowing a second-round pick on Bronny just to appease the old man. Would the level of appeasement go all the way to letting LeBron pick the coach? Now, you can say he probably has already picked the coach.

I would say this. If Darvin Hamm was someone LeBron didn't want to be there, he would never have been hired. If LeBron didn't want Frank Vogel, he would have gotten the job.

I'm not sure. They were handpicked. But once LeBron did not want them to be the coach, yes, it was a short chapter for both those guys, even though Vogel won a title with the asterisk in the bubble, and Hamm got two years, and that was that. So I don't know the inner workings of the Laker organization, even though I pretend to be a power broker here in Southern California. But it's just logical and rational to think that if LeBron wants something, he's going to get his wishes fulfilled. And apparently he wants J.J. Riddick.

And I'm going to say this respectfully. I hope J.J. Riddick gets that job so I don't have to listen to him on the NBA coverage anymore. I enjoy his podcast thoughts because that's long form and his sharp basketball mind comes into focus. But when you're calling games, they are captions, and you have to succinctly tell me what's important. There was a long stretch on Friday, and I'm getting in the weeds here.

I'll do it quickly. Drew Holliday, after he came up with that steal that effectively sealed the win, even though the Pacers had that one more look at it with that funky NFL formation when they had all five players sprinting out of the backcourt. But when Holliday came up with the steal, getting the ball from Nemmard, the question was, was it a clear path foul or not? Mike Breen had to handle all the analysis.

J.J. and Doris Burke said virtually nothing. That's where J.J.'s got to step up. But he doesn't have a ton of experience, and I don't think necessarily this was his goal. He was happy being a second-tier analyst because you have more freedom. So just as someone who likes watching hoops, I would like J.J. to get another gig. But that's just my opinion.

Obviously, I could take shots at more successful people because I'm a fill-in host working on Memorial Day. The pushback for J.J. Redick is no coaching experience. Here's where the Lakers are spinning it, in the only way that makes sense for them internally because the Lakers are a family business stuck in 1982.

Unfortunately, Dr. Jerry Buss is no longer with us. But here's what the Lakers are putting out. They see J.J. Redick as a transformational figure like Pat Riley, who people forget was the radio analyst working with Chick Hearn before he took over as head coach. They see J.J. as someone who could be not only the head coach for the foreseeable future, but then take over the organization and run player personnel like Pat Riley has done on a Hall of Fame level in Miami.

And my only question is, where are you getting these takeaways from? J.J.'s a bright guy. I respect Duke. I understand you can win in that league without having coaching experience. The best example would be Steve Kerr, although people forget he was the GM in Phoenix. But can we just pump the brakes to a degree about guiding up J.J. Redick on every level? If he gets the job, it's going to be primarily because he is LeBron's friend and co-host on the podcast. Now, would there be issues within the locker room? If you're not LeBron or that type of LeBron, you're going to look at J.J. Redick and say, okay, let me take a look at your NBA stats.

Can you match up with me? Respect is so important in that league. So it's going to be fascinating to see how far LeBron pushes it, and I think he's going to push it to the limit first by opting out to have the hammer of free agency. Where is he going?

Probably nowhere. If he was going to go anywhere, Philly makes a lot of sense. But the Lakers can pay him more than anybody.

And more important, he's got the lifestyle he wants here in Southern California because of everything else he's doing beyond basketball that has added up to his accumulation of better than a billion dollars in net worth. I'm Brian Weber, working for a lot less than that. I wouldn't say it out loud. I do it for free.

I enjoy the opportunity so much. Coming up, we wrap up the program talking baseball. The Bronx Bombers have the best record in the American League. So can we say on Memorial Day the Yankees are officially back looking forward to checking in with Scott Miller, a contributor for the New York Times.

It's Weber in for Eisen. We roll on on Memorial Day here on the Rich Eisen Show. Let's talk O'Reilly Auto Parts, people. Or as you might know from their jingle, O-O-O, O'Reilly Auto Parts.

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Always a delight to sit in for Rich and the fellas. They're all back with you tomorrow, but we have more business to attend to. Let's talk baseball with an old friend, one of the best in the business.

Scott Miller, contributor from the New York Times, co-author of the book, 90% Mental. Scott, it's been a few months since we last chatted. How are you? Real good, Brian. How are you?

Nice to be with you. I appreciate you taking the time and I want to draw on your expertise as a longtime sports journalist and you know the San Diego sports scene very well. We got the sad news today that Bill Walton has passed away at the age of 71, connected the San Diego back to being a star at Helix High. How would you sum up his legacy in the life of times of a unique personality? Well, I mean, if anybody that was 7 foot 1 or so or 6 foot 11 can be bigger than life, it was Bill Walton.

What a force of nature. His enthusiasm for everything was incredible, whether it was, you know, college basketball, the Pacific 12 Conference, you know, rock and roll, his beloved Grateful Dead. You know, if we all could have passion in even two elements in our lives that Bill Walton had in about 35 elements of his life, I think the world would be a better place. He brought light, he brought smiles, and it was just a joy, you know, and I was lucky enough to bump into him. In fact, you were just nice enough to mention 90% Mental, the book I wrote with Bob Tewkesbury.

A year or two after that came out, I had just a blast doing a... The San Diego Union Tribune, the local newspaper, hosted a book festival, and they had Bill and I together on a sports panel on stage, and, you know, the audience was asking questions, and Bill couldn't have been more gracious. That's the first time I met him. I was fortunate to meet him a couple times after that locally here in San Diego, but, I mean, just from the very first impression, I mean, he treated him like you were an old friend, and I loved listening to him on Kyle's basketball games. You never knew. I mean, you'd bounce from, you know, what UCLA was doing to something, the Grateful Dead, some lyric to, you know, something that just, you know, was talked about going to the moon or something, and Bill Walton was just a unique, singularly unique personality who, as I say, the thing that remains with me is just his passion for so many things, and it's infectious.

Well said, and I appreciate the context in that response. I'm Brian Weber, in for Rich Eisen, talking baseball with Scott Miller, so let's make the challenging transition to the games themselves, and I'm here in LA where Dodger fans are convinced that they should just be handed the World Series trophy, and there's a lot of good reasons to believe LA could be the best team in all of baseball, but, as you know, they've been mortal as of late. Scuffling, they've lost five straight, so let's just say, let's pick the Padres because I don't believe in the Giants too much. San Diego picks up a wonderful bat, and Luis Arias, a two-time batting champion.

They're five and a half back of LA. Scott, do you think the Padres can make things interesting moving forward in that division? You know, even though the Dodgers, Brian, have lost five in a row, and nobody expected that.

Nobody expected them to, you know, drop three in a row to Cincinnati. I still think they win the National League West going away. I mean, to your point, the Padres might be the only team that could make things interesting, and Luis Arias, by the way, great pickup. You know, boy, you know, that short swing to the ball, he's so short to the ball, it's a thing of beauty, and the fun thing about Luis Arias, you watch him on TV, he steps into the batter's box, and right before the first pitch is thrown, a couple times I've seen this, the TV shows him up close, and you can see Arias's eyes going from the left field foul line to the right field foul line.

He's just scanning the field, as so many great hitters used to do, just looking for holes as to where he might be able to hit the ball, and that tells you everything you need to know about how skillful Arias is. But the Dodgers, you know, I think the thing with them, they're just so strong, the bottom half of their lineup does fall off, no doubt. I mean, you don't get any better than Mookie Betts to lead off and Shohei hitting second, Freddie Freeman hitting third.

Will Smith at cleanup is really good. It does drop off, partly because guys like Chris Taylor, Chris has been a valuable piece for the Dodgers in the past, and he's having a miserable time getting started this year, so they've got some issues like that that every team does, but I think the Dodgers also, Brian, I think they're back-loaded for the season and what I mean by that is they understand they're going to be in the playoffs, and they slow play some of their guys, like we saw Walker Buehler just rejoin the rotation about two weeks ago. Clayton Kershaw is still to come. You know, they've got some other pitchers, too, Tony Gonsolin that'll probably join the team later in the year, so they're kind of back-loaded from that sense, and I think they're really good now, even though they lost five in a row, but they're going to get stronger as the season goes on, and that's one key, I think, to the Dodgers. Brian Weber in for Rich Eisen.

It's Memorial Day, and we're live on the Rich Eisen Show talking baseball with our friend Scott Miller. Scott, Atlanta had been dealing with adversity coupled with a strong start by Philadelphia, and we know how well Philly has played against Atlanta head-to-head in the postseason, now with the devastating news that Ronald Acuna Jr. is out for the year with a torn ACL. They got to move forward without the reigning National League MVP. How much do you think that injury could impact the entire balance of power in the National League?

Well, there's no doubt it's a devastating injury. There's no doubt the Phillies are legit. Phillies will come back to earth some.

I mean, they're 38-16 as we speak right now, Brian, and they've got a 7.04 winning percentage, which is, needless to say, phenomenal. Also, probably needless to say, there's no team that's going to win 70% of its games offseason, so the Phillies will come back to earth a little bit. But, yeah, I mean, certainly Acuna Jr.'s injury makes the Braves more vulnerable, significantly more vulnerable. I mean, I thought for much of this season, you know, you could look around, and you could ID the best teams in the game. I thought the best teams are the Dodgers, the Braves. You know, you have to throw the Phillies in there, and, you know, probably the Yankees. You know, Baltimore maybe, but, you know, this certainly increases Atlanta's degree of difficulty, no doubt about it. Certainly, it makes, it could make the Phillies road a little bit easier.

But the one thing I'll remind is this. You know, Ronald Acuna Jr. blew out his other knee, unfortunately, blew out the ACL in 2021. And Alex Anthopoulos, Atlanta's head of baseball operations, he's so good and so talented. He made a flurry of trades at that year's trade deadline. He had lost to Acuna for the year. He made some trades, and the Braves end up winning the World Series that year. So that's just a gentle reminder that I'm not necessarily predicting.

I mean, if Atlanta could win two World Series with Acuna out, it would be unbelievable. But it is a reminder that as devastating as this is, it also was devastating when they lost to Acuna Jr. in 2021, and they won the World Series that year anyway. And that is outstanding perspective and the kind of information you always provide. Scott, greatly appreciate you taking the time on the holiday. Hope you enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day and hope we can do it again soon as we move forward into things getting even more interesting across Major League Baseball. I look forward to it, Brad. Take care. All the best. Thanks very much, Scott Miller. And I also appreciate him not knowing I was going to ask him about Bill Walton, but he's so versatile and such an excellent communicator, as you can certainly pick up when you read his work in The New York Times. Also, I recommend you pick up the book.

It would be an ideal Father's Day gift with Father's Day coming up 90 percent mental. I'm Brian Weber in for Rich and the Fellows. We are winding down. That means Mr. Eisen and the team are warming up. They're going to be full of even more energy, passion and intensity because Rich was off on Friday, a well-deserved mini break. So I'm sure Rich will have his perspective on the story that we pivoted towards about midway through the last hour of the program when we got the announcement from the NBA that Bill Walton had passed away at the age of 71. And I'm glad that I was here. Obviously, very sad news, but a wonderful privilege to be with you to share my thoughts, because as Scott said so eloquently, yes, he was the big redhead. And yes, he was a large presence in the paint, but he was also bigger than life in every sense of the word. I want to thank my friend Scott Miller. Check out his work.

As I mentioned, The New York Times. Last hour of the program, we had NBA analysis provided by Mike Vorkinoff of The Athletic. I don't have my calendar in front of me, but if you enjoyed this act, I would say circle back around July 4th if the past is a predictor. I've had the great pleasure of being with you that holiday week in the past, but we'll take it one show at a time. That's all the Pacers can do tonight, one game at a time.

I don't think they call it a show. Of course, in baseball, welcome to the show. Going to be very interesting to see where Indy is emotionally after another crushing loss. Just ripped out of their hearts, that chance to win the game by Drew Holiday, going back to Saturday night. And even if they can salvage a game that just makes it a gentlemen's sweep, it feels like we're on the brink of Boston against Dallas.

Remember, that NBA final matchup cannot start until June 6th. So the creativity and the storytelling of Rich and the fellas will come into focus. I also would imagine as OTAs continue, Rich is going to have more thoughts.

I did have a chance to pay off my T's. Let me do it quickly because I was going to talk about which NFL coach described his quarterback situation. This was in our number two thought, as a group of orphan dogs. If you had Sean Payton on your bingo card, you would have won. How do you think Bo Nix feels about that? Now, Jared Stidham, yeah, he's been orphaned. You got Zach Wilson, many jokes you can write there. Bo Nix was a Heisman finalist, top 12 pick, and now he's being called an orphan dog. And I think the notion was all these guys have something to prove. Sean Payton has proved that he can do whatever he wants in Denver.

He's got the hammer, he's got the contract, and now Russell Wilson's looking to reinvent himself in Pittsburgh. A lot of people to thank, starting with Rich Eisen, always appreciate his confidence in me. Bruce Gilbert, all the good people here at Westwood One. Our technical producer, Curtis, did an outstanding job. I'm Brian Weber. Enjoy your Memorial Day. Rich is back with you tomorrow, here on The Rich Eisen Show. Jump in now or catch up on any of the past seasons of Talkville on YouTube or wherever you listen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-27 19:15:46 / 2024-05-27 19:36:05 / 20

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