Bob Gross, to whom Walton sent sweet backdoor passes, is retired. Maurice Lucas, with whom Walton teamed to snag rebounds, hit a 60-ft. shot at the buzzer the night before last for the L.A. Lakers. And Dave Twardzik, to whom Walton would throw his perfect outlet passes, is working in the Blazers' office after a stint as the color commentator for the team's radio broadcasts.
Bill Walton comes off the bench now. He doesn't play as many minutes as he used to in order to protect himself from injury. But he still blocks shots, he still grabs rebounds, he still dishes off backdoor passes to guards streaking to the hoop, and despite Boston's inclement weather, he still loves playing basketball.
Tonight, Bill Walton will play for a winning team against a club he once made into a winner.
And it doesn't matter whether the Celtics or the Blazers win. Bill Walton will still love every minute he's on the court. He'll break out in a mammouth grin every time Larry Bird completes an impossible pass or nails a 25-ft. jumper or each time Dennis Johnson makes a tenacious defensive play.
UCLA was once synonomous with winning. The Celtics have always been synonomous with winning. And one thread runs common throughout Walton's career.
Bill Walton is a winner.