Bill Walton Talks USC Basketball

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January 17, 2013 by Seth Rubinroit

By Seth Rubinroit

Hall of Famer and UCLA legend Bill Walton is known for being a diehard Grateful Dead fan, and has attended more than 300 concerts as the band toured the country.

Walton is now in the midst of his own bus tour, traveling 3,500 miles to visit nine Pac-12 schools over 10 weeks as part of Bill Walton’s Pac-12 Campus Tour.

Wednesday night Walton stopped by USC to speak in professor Jeff Fellenzer’s JOUR 380: Sports, Business, and Media in Today’s Society class. Before addressing the 200-plus students in attendance, Walton talked USC basketball with members of the media.

Walton suggested a new name for the USC coaching search.

“I would recommend Phil Jackson,” Walton said. “This is USC. Why have limits or boundaries? It is time to dream. Anytime somebody tells you that will never work, you know you are talking to the wrong guy.”

Walton did not state a preference for hiring a coach from the professional or collegiate ranks.

“You want to get the best coach you can,” Walton said. “It is just like how students want the best professors, and it does not matter where they come from. Students should want [AEG’s] Phil Anschutz to come down here and be their professor.”

Walton is confident that USC athletic director Pat Haden will turn around the USC basketball program.

“Pat Haden is brilliant and a visionary,” Walton said. “He is not in this for himself. He is in it for USC.”

Walton has been surprised by the crowds he has noticed at USC and UCLA basketball games

“Sports is entertainment, and you have to put an exciting product on the court,” Walton said. “If there are empty seats in the arenas, then that is because they are not playing exciting enough ball.”

While in college Walton never lost to USC, but he nevertheless enjoys the USC-UCLA rivalry.

“Rivalries are fun,” Walton said. “It is what drives us and gives us a sense of purpose. One of the purposes in life, particularly at a college, is to inspire and get people to care. People care very much about the rivalry between USC and UCLA.”

For more on Walton’s appearance at USC, please see my story for Pac12.com.

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