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Glenn Ordway - Longtime Boston Sports Personality

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2024 6:21 pm

Glenn Ordway - Longtime Boston Sports Personality

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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May 28, 2024 6:21 pm

The longtime broadcaster from Boston joins the show to share stories of Bill Walton and to chat about the Celtics' chances at winning the NBA Finals.

Zach Gelb Show
Zach Gelb

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That's right. It is the Zach Gelb show on the Infinity Sports Network. You all know Glenn Ordway very well. Used to be on the Celtics broadcast team and then for many, many, many years was the voice of Sports Talk in Boston. And I thought he'd be a perfect person today to talk a little bit about the Celtics, but also more importantly, remember the great life of Bill Walton, who passed away yesterday at the age of 71 on Glenn's final regular show on WEI. He had Bill Walton on and I was listening back to that today and Bill Walton to describe Glenn Ordway said, Glenn was a creative genius with a dialogue that had no direction and the big O is kind enough to join us right now. Glenn, first off, my condolences and appreciate you jumping on board with us today. Zach, always great talking to you, pal. Well, thanks so much for coming on.

I want to start off. It's funny. We were talking about Bill Walton earlier and with all the accolades that he had. No one wants to talk about on the court. It's always off the court with Bill. Bill's a big reason why you became a deadhead and a big fan of the Grateful Dead. Is that correct?

That is correct. One day Bill Walton was gathering up all the players and he said something would I think it was Houston. I can't remember what city we were in. And he said, we're all going to the Grateful Dead concert tonight. And then, you know, Robert Parrish is looking at him and Dennis Johnson, what the hell is the Grateful Dead? And of course, I knew what the Grateful Dead was. But the only issue I hit with the Grateful Dead is they would start their first song and it would go on for like 25 or 30 minutes.

And I'd always try to figure out when is the song ending in the next one beginning. But I do like them. You know, I didn't love them.

I liked them. But out of nowhere, and this was so typical of Bill Walton, and I think you're hearing it now, Zach, from so many people. He didn't want anybody to be left out. I was part of the traveling party. He came up to me and he said, Glenn, we're all going to the Grateful Dead concert. You're going.

It's simple as that. And I'm sitting there going, yeah, I'm going, I'm in. And then not only did we get to see the concert, but we're backstage after with Jerry Garcia, Bill Weir and all the members of the band sitting around with them. And then Walton is just carrying on with these stories going on and on, back and forth.

It was an education. But that was typical of Bill Walton. But it's funny because Dennis Johnson, Robert Parish, all the black players ended up showing up and they loved it.

They absolutely loved it. That was the thing that Bill had is that he could bring all of these people together. And somebody said this to me earlier today, that people didn't get worked up at Bill's politics because he was as left as you could possibly be. And I said, no, even in this day and age where everybody is split 50-50, nobody dislikes Bill. You just know where Bill stands. But Bill is not going to discount you.

He's not going to suddenly make you void. He's still going to have that conversation with you about how he feels about certain things in the world. And those were some of the great things. And that's why you're hearing so many wonderful things about Bill Walton. Yeah, it's kind of crazy where you talked about how Bill just didn't want anyone left out. It's a lot more of animosity now between players and the media. We all have our relationships with players, but I could never see now a team broadcaster going to a concert with a player.

It just wouldn't happen. Zach, I probably hadn't talked to him. I think his Hall of Fame induction was 1993, I believe. And I hadn't talked to him in a couple of years. And out of nowhere, I get a phone call. And he says, Glenn, Bill Walton. And then he tells me that he's getting inducted in the Hall of Fame. Of course, I knew he was getting inducted in the Hall of Fame.

And he invites me to the ceremony. It's right down the street. It's in Springfield.

It's like two hours away from me, right down the road. And of course, I was there. And it was just magnificent.

It was unbelievable. But that is what he was like. Every person in that building, to him, really counted. It was part of what he thought was his Boston or Boston Celtics experience, which I will tell you, you asked me as a basketball player, and we all know what a great college basketball player he was. He probably was the greatest college basketball player of all time. And the pros, he had so many injuries, early days with Portland, with some success.

And then the back goes, and the knees go, and the ankles go, and everything else goes. He comes to the Boston Celtics, and he's so excited. I remember that first summer, he comes to the Boston Celtics in a trade, and he's just so excited. His career has been revived.

Even though he left San Diego, his hometown, this was incredible. So he goes out and plays the first game. First game of that season, and you probably, well, some people in the audience remember that that season was highly touted. Everybody looked at the 85-86 Celtics and said, this could be one of the all-time great teams. They had depth, they had great stars, great starting lineup. They could do everything offensively and defensively.

First game is in New Jersey. Team that wasn't really good. They only won 39 games that season. Bill goes out there and just absolutely stinks out the joint. He is absolutely horrendous in the game. He had seven turnovers. He got into foul trouble early. He had five fouls playing in the fourth quarter. Celtics had built up a 12-point lead. They lose that game in overtime, and one of the main reasons they lost that game is how bad Bill was.

So the game is over. Players are in the locker room and then on the team bus, and Bill's going around apologizing to all of the players. Because now this is the highly touted Bill Walton, the great redhead. He's coming to Boston, and this first game was disastrous.

He comes out and greets the media, because they were asking him about his first experience. He said, I am a disgrace to the game of basketball. I should not be on this team or any team.

I am a complete disgrace to basketball. Well, I remember on the bus, he was going around apologizing, and then on the team plane apologizing to everybody, and the players were just laughing. And it kind of broke the ice, and from there on, he got better every game.

I think three, four games into it, it was a Milwaukee game, and he was absolutely terrific. And of course, he won the sixth play for the year that year. But just to see him as he had built up this coming to Boston, how the revival of his career, and to see it all crash in New Jersey of all places. But that was Bill.

He was just totally honest, and he was totally honest about himself. And Glenn Orre here with us, Boston royalty in the sports media world, is remember the life of Bill Walton. As we talked about earlier, it's a different time now, but one of my favorite stories ever is when he goes to Boston. He's in the hospital trying to get cleared for the physical. The doctor's like, we can't clear him. And Red Auerbach comes walking into a hospital smoking a cigar, and he's like, this is my bleeping show. All the doctors out, hey Bill, you want to play?

You good to play? And then boom, that's how he gets cleared to play. That's a great story, too. Yeah, the best part of that story is Red going into Mass General Hospital with a cigar as if it's alive.

You can walk into a hospital, you can smoke a cigar. Even in those days, I think that was off limits. But I mean, that was Bill Walton. He wanted to play in the worst way. I watched him through that entire season, Zach. And I'm telling you, he played 80 games that year. That was the most he had ever played in the NBA. Most of his seasons were 35, 45. I think he had one game of 65. He played 80 games, and he averaged just under 20 minutes a game, I believe, during that season. But let me tell you, he had to will himself to play many of those games.

He had those legs in ice buckets just to get going out on the court to be able to play those games. But that told me how important that season was for him. He had known that he had had real setbacks in his career, that his career was not what he thought it was going to be. But this was a way in which he could make it all good again. And he did. And unfortunately, the next year, he ended up busting his ankle or whatever, believe it or not, on an exercise bike. It was something as weird as that. But he was just a blast to be around.

So much fun. And you're right, he came on my last show. He called my show on my last show because we had built up a good friendship over the years, and he was a regular guest. And then the problem I had with him is that when you would bring him on, and you know, you get a 15-minute segment, a 17-minute segment or whatever, you'd ask him one question.

And then 15 minutes later, you'd have to interrupt him. Bill, we only have one segment. And he did call that last show, and I hate to say it because you correctly termed what he said about me, but he said that about a lot of people. Because Bill, he did.

It was not unique. He said it about a lot of people. You don't have to tell anyone that, Glenn.

It's a great line. Yeah, but that's what Bill was like. He embraced other people to the point where he was interested in who you were and what you do and what life is like for you. And you tell me, you've been around professional sports long enough now, you don't see a lot of people that do that.

You know, they want the attention on them, but they're never interested in anybody else. And he was interested in the garden crew, the security crew, and going up to them and asking them questions about their lives. That was Bill Walton.

Well, that's the crazy part. Like in the last 24 hours since we found out about this, you know, I understand he had a lot of injuries, but still Hall of Famer, so many accolades, but everyone wants to talk about stories that really have nothing to do with basketball for a guy that should be remembered for basketball, but he won't be because of his unique ability, especially, you know, you had a different perspective during the career, but for a lot of people after his playing career. Yeah, no, I think if he were healthy, you would see a career out of him that would be very similar to what you're seeing with Jokic right now out in Denver. I think the difference was Jokic can dribble the ball, take the ball up the floor. You know, Bill had great mobility up and down the floor when he was healthy, but his key was passing. So when he got the ball in the back court, he's making that first quick pass into the front court, then he's running and then he's operating the offense, but I would say a very similar game other than the dribbling aspect of Jokic. He would have been a dominant force as a pro, and we might be talking about him in the same conversation with Michael Jordan and Kobe and all of the other greats.

Yeah, it's kind of wild because you go through it, right? He won two championships in college, two in the pros, was an MVP in the pros, finals MVP as well, three-time player of the year in college basketball. You talked about the sixth man with the Celtics, like that's a career most people would do anything for. And for Bill, most people just go, oh, imagine if he didn't get hurt. So it's a great conversation to bring up. There's no doubt about it, Glenn. No question. Wrapping up with Glenn Ordway. Yeah, go ahead. Sorry.

No, I was just going to say that everybody's saying it the last couple of days. Imagine if he was somewhat healthy because you talk about, forget about somewhat healthy. He had a disastrous career injury-wise. You want to look at the resume of injuries through his career.

It was a complete disaster, and yet you just read his playing resume, still pretty damn good. Man, no doubt about it. All right, assuming Glenn Ordway, who's here with us now, that it's going to be the Mavericks up against the Celtics with Dallas up 3-0. They could close it out tonight. Give me a little feel of that with Kyrie going back to play a fan base that deservedly so should want nothing to do with him and will boo the crap out of him with the way that Kyrie behaved in Boston.

Boy, I tell you what, that's going to be fantastic theater. I thought Dallas would be really good in the postseason. I did not think they would win it. I thought it was going to be Denver, but here it is.

It looks like it's going to be Dallas. Kyrie has been great throughout the playoffs, and he and Luca, I've heard people say it, it is the greatest offensive backcourt in the history of the NBA. The interesting part about Kyrie is since he left the Celtics, he has been absolute toast in virtually every single game against them. It's almost like the nerves get to him. He tries to do too much, and he ends up making a lot of mistakes. So to watch him is going to be fascinating. Luca, obviously, we know what he's like when the game is on the line in clutch.

We'll take that three from 35 feet away and then fall somewhere into the stands. We know what he's like. I just think, Zach, that the Celtics are just more talented. And I know what Dallas has gotten out of Daniel Gafford and what they've got out of Derrick Lively. They've changed their game dramatically. They can now defend where they couldn't earlier in the season.

So they do a lot of things that are really good, but they rely totally on Luca and Kyrie. If one of those two guys does not perform at an extremely high level, we're talking 30 plus points, I think Dallas has trouble. When you look at Boston right now, Tatum can have an off night.

Brown can have an off night. You have other guys that can pick up the slack. They can put five guys on the floor. Any one of them can score, which means they're very difficult to defend. Because if you try to shut down Tatum or try to shut down Brown, you try to double, you try to trap them, then Derrick White is going to beat you from the corner. Drew Holliday is going to beat you from the wing. That's where they are. They are just so talented and so deep and guys can do it.

Now, I'll put one caveat into all of this. Chris Topps Porzingis has got to play in this series. I agree. You need him in the series. I was looking at the possibility of Minnesota where they really would have needed him. But even the way Lively and Gafford are playing right now, they're much better up front. They get a lot of pick and roll action with the bigs above the rim.

So I really think you need him. And Porzingis proved this year when he's healthy, he's a great defender of the pick and roll. He can pick up on the guard because of his wingspan. And so he, off of switches, really is a plus for you, sometimes on a smaller player, which usually isn't the case. So I think he's a must to play in the series. If he plays, I think Boston wins it in six.

And the two things I'll just touch on what you said. Drew Holliday, I think Glen Orre, he's the missing piece for the Celtics, a guy that won a championship before Milwaukee. And Kyrie, right, in Boston, it was a disaster how it ended his fault. It was a disaster in Brooklyn, his fault. I think the respect he has for Jason Kidd, him growing up as a net fan and Kidd was his favorite player, I think got Kyrie to lock in. And you haven't really heard a lot of praise for Jason Kidd, who we all know what he did in a basketball court as a player. But Glen, he was a failure as a coach in Brooklyn and Milwaukee, and now he's got things going in Dallas. Well, and he's got Luca to bail him out, out of a lot.

So that's a big loss. I mean, Luca is one of those players that when you're in trouble, he will come up with the impossible shot. Now, I don't think teams have done a good enough job in these playoffs of wearing him down at the defensive end. My guess is that's what Boston is going to try to do. But getting back to Kyrie and you're right, the one the biggest issue that Jason Kidd is going to have is to get confidence into Kyrie Irving so that they can get Kyrie playing the way he's played so far in these playoffs against the team that he's never played against that he has demons in his head.

And you said it perfectly. They're going to call his name. Those fans are going to boo him and call his name every time he touches the wall. I think he should wear earplugs for that series. It's not a bad suggestion. Before we let you run, I forget which former NBA player said it, but I got to get your reaction on this because it made me chuckle.

And I love Luca Doncic, but one of the former players said Luca is already better than Larry Bird. Your thoughts, Big O on that? Listen, this is what happens in this day and age, and I'm not putting down the current media, but I think there's a tendency and maybe my generation did it as well. Did you forget about it? Because we had an excuse. We didn't have an awful lot of video.

You guys have got all sorts of video, but it's amazing how much we dismiss stuff that is in the past. I was having an argument with somebody the other day and they were talking about ball handlers and I was talking about they didn't include Magic Johnson in the group. I said, are you kidding me? You're not including Magic Johnson in that? And then I wasn't that good because he was tall. I said he was tall and he could handle the ball. He could protect the ball.

But getting back to your point, there are a lot of similarities to their games. Eye hand coordination, great court vision, can see everybody in the floor, can throw passes that you sit there and go, wow, that's an unbelievable pass. The difference is, and maybe Luca will get out of it. There are times when I watch Luca in the game in which I sit there and say, God, he's running up and down the court like he's me. Like he's overweight and out of shape. Don't you get that feeling sometimes when you watch him? And then he'll come right back and make a phenomenal play. So obviously he's in good enough shape to be able to play at this level. Larry early on in his career, I think had some of those issues as well, but he got over them very, very quickly because he realized the schedule is too complicated. There are too many games.

You have to make sure you're in phenomenal shape. So I think there's a difference. Could Luca, when it's all said and done, go down in history in a similar place as Larry Bird?

I think that's possible. For anybody to say it right now, virtually at five, six, seven years into somebody's career. Come on.

What are we doing here? Come on. Last thing I'll ask you, Glenn Ordway, what was Bill Walton really, really like at a dead show? He knew every word to every song. You'll be amazed at this. He was a little bit high on some of those shows, a little bit.

Just a tad. But he knew every song, he knew every riff, he knew everything that was coming up next on the concert. He once claimed that he had gone to over 850 Grateful Dead concerts.

So I probably caught him at, I'm going to guess somewhere at 175, maybe 200 or something like that. And at that point, he was totally engaged. And the band, I can tell you from being around him and the band members, the band loved him. I mean, loved him.

He was their number one fan and they showed total respect for him. He really was, Zach, he really was a great guy. Somebody said to me, how would you describe him? He said, genuine. Just down to earth and genuine. And unfortunately, there aren't enough people like that. We lost a good one.

Well said. Once again, my condolences as you lost your friend Bill Walton yesterday. He's the great Glenn Ordway. Glenn, you look great. You sound great. Always great to connect with you. Thank you, Zach.

It's always great talking to you, bud. Have a good one. You got it. There he is, the big O. Sensational stuff with him. We'll take a time out. We're 100 days away from the NFL season. One of the five biggest storylines entering the 2024 NFL season. We'll get to that next. The wait is over.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-28 18:37:55 / 2024-05-28 18:47:55 / 10

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