ESPN knows what they have in Bill Walton. They know he's a high-risk, high-reward proposition. They put him on the Pacific timezone tips offs, where he acts as college basketball's de-facto late-night host. They send him to the Maui Invitational where he can prance around in leis and make weed jokes freed from the shackles of mainland morays. They know he has limits and they also know he can do things other people simply can't. All of which is why it's a little bit surprising that the boys in Bristol rolled the dice and put Uncle Bill on the call of Trojans vs. Wildcats on Thursday night. They must have thought Bill could handle it—that he could make it full Trojans game without inundating viewers in prophylactic double entendre after prophylactic double entendre—but they were wrong. Delightfully, gloriously wrong.
"What can kind of defense can the Trojans play here, PLEASE!" he implores the USC quintet late in the second half. Then pausing for effect, he takes just a tiny little nibble of the bait that had been dangling in front him all game: "Trojan is all about protection" he says, casually, er, slipping the innuendo into the regular flow of the play-by-play.
So sure, the inevitable came to pass, but honestly we're proud of Bill for making it that far without turning the broadcast into a full-fledged condom commercial. "This is where the rubber meets the road!" we can practically hear him say. "What a MAGNUM of a dunk!" we can imagine him exclaiming. The opportunities are seemingly endless but he showed restraint. Perhaps he has turned over a new leaf. Perhaps this is a new, more mature Bill Walton we're seeing in 2020 . . . though for our sake (and college basketball's), we certainly hope not.