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War of Words

“If the Russians invade us tomorrow …” ponders Bill Walton mid-broadcast seconds before getting his mic cut


Ethan Miller

Let’s keep things simple shall we? Life can be divided into two halves: The serious stuff and the not-so-serious stuff. Sometimes they intersect. Sometimes we cope with the former by treating it like the latter. But war? Well, war isn’t one of those gray areas and right now the world—whether actively engaged in combat or not—is at war. It’s not really a thing to work up punchlines about, a point made painfully clear this past week as Twitter yucksters complained about losing followers while the Ukrainian people lost their homes and lives.

A guy like Bill Walton should know better. He’s seen some sh*t. He’s experienced personal trauma. He’s as much a product of the anti-war ‘60s as Jane Fonda. Unfortunately a guy like Bill Walton is also a firehose for his own thoughts, which led to this profoundly awkwardly (and very Bill Walton moment) during the first half of Stanford-Arizona on Thursday night.

Generally we’re all for Bill being Bill. Hell, the guy once rubbed chocolates all over his body while gleefully recalling the time he almost committed suicide and we let it slide. But the decision to cut his mic here was a mercy kill for everyone involved. For viewers tuning in to watch college basketball and forget about looming threat of nuclear extinction for an hour; for the poor sap who monitors the ESPN complaint inbox; and especially for Walton himself, who, let’s be honest, isn’t always driving with both hands on the wheel.

So go ahead and fill in the blanks on your own, preferably in the privacy of your own home. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t morbidly curious about what was about to come out of Walton’s ever-moving mouth next, but in this case, it’s best to let our imagination do the talking.