â†µWalton’s contract with ESPN expires after this season. The fact that Walton won’t be on TV this year should come as no surprise to fans of his work – he was barely on the network at all in the last few years. â†µâ†µ
â†µPer a statement released from ESPN, Walton explained his decision: â†µ
â†µâ‡¥“As I return after a grueling multi-year, life-threatening, life-changing ordeal with back problems, it is time to dedicate the rest of my life to service. It is great to be back in the game. Thanks everybody -- for everything.” â†µâ†µEven the statement is vintage Walton, overtly congenial while explaining he’ll be dedicating his life to the somewhat amorphous ‘service’ yet not forgetting to mention his back problems were both ‘life-threatening’ and ‘life-changing’. First, obviously, you hope Walton gets and remains healthy, and can avoid the chronic injuries a man of his size undoubtedly gets stricken with throughout life, especially as he gets older. â†µ
â†µSecond, while Walton’s commentary during a basketball game is somewhat of an acquired taste – Walton, like many color analysts, often seemed more focused on being the game than commenting on it – there are few who can claim to be a better radio interview. Listening to Walton on the ESPN Radio shows ramble on about basketball and life and tremendousness and tales of transcendental journeys that always ended up with him on stage with Jerry Garcia ... well, in a way, I’ll miss those, tremendously. And this statement is not to say that Walton is going away forever. Heck, without the rigors of the NBA season, he’d have more time for interviews or podcasting on his own or whatever road by which his life twists. â†µâ†µ
â†µSaid ESPN Exec VP/Studio & Remote Production Norby Williamson: â†µâ†µ
â†µâ‡¥“Bill is a Hall of Fame talent, both as a player and broadcaster. NBA fans will miss his distinct personality. We appreciate all of his contributions to ESPN and share best wishes toward continued health and happiness.” â†µâ†µIf for nothing else, today's news allows us to link to this page, and that seems like a fun place to be.â†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.