CORVALLIS, Ore. – As I wrote in my two previous posts, Bill Walton’s intent for his Pac-12 campus tour is to let students into his head – to share his stories and thoughts on any and every topic. Aboard the bus from Eugene to Corvallis, I asked him to share the key nuggets of wisdom he wanted to deliver while on the tour. A top five, let’s say.
The man is a quote machine. Ask him anything and a profound saying or song lyric rolls off his tongue to eloquently reveal his point of view. But for the first time in maybe decades, Bill Walton was stumped. Speechless. He lay down, occupying the entire length of the chocolate-colored couch near the bus’ entrance.
After minutes of silent reflection, he gave me this:
Be happy: Happiness starts with your health, which is a combination of luck, genetics and choices. Be careful with what you put in your body, how you rest, how you exercise and what your lifestyle is. I’m happiest when I’m with my family, riding my bike, reading, working in the garden, going to concerts. I like to witness greatness. I love to drift and dream.
Make a difference: I don’t think I have yet. That’s one of the frustrating, embarrassing aspects of my life, but it’s also a challenge – a challenge to do more, to do something. I spend hours every day on the phone, online or face-to-face with people who have suffered from catastrophic health issues and have given up hope. I try to convince them that there is a reason to believe, and that they should step back from the bridge or put the gun down; they have a chance. Because when you’re in that spot – and I’ve been there – you no longer believe. Your life is over. But look at my life today: I’m on a bus with beautiful people, and we’re going to college. I hope to make that difference in someone else’s life.
Be a part of something special: I was part of UCLA, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Boston Celtics, incredible broadcast teams and the Grateful Dead. I am the luckiest man in the world.
Search, find and learn from master teachers: I had great coaches from the beginning. Every coach I’ve had since I was a child was a John Wooden disciple: Lenny Wilkens, Jack Ramsay, Gene Shue, Paul Silas, Don Chaney, Casey Jones, Red Auerbach. And then there’s John Wooden himself. They all taught me the practical knowledge of how to get things done and not to get bogged down in meaningless, tedious idiology, which is fun to dream about and talk about, but you have to accomplish things. John Wooden once said, “You never want to mistake activity for achievement.”
Bonus wisdom: Go to bed early because nothing good happens after 10 p.m. Watch Pac-12 Networks and ESPN all day long. And everyone bring stickers to decorate this bus.
So, students awaiting Walton’s date with your school, there’s a small sample of what he’ll have to say when he arrives on campus. But don’t think you’ve heard it all now – you never know what’s going to come out of his mouth. If you’re into laughing and learning from a living legend, do not miss it. I repeat, do not miss it.
This concludes my participation in the bus tour, but it’s only the beginning for you guys. Keep following and using the hashtag #WaltonOnWheels through March 6 – the date of his final stop at Cal.
And, seriously, bring stickers for the bus.