I'm no ad wizard, but it seems like having Bill Walton as the spokesperson for Guinness is in fact a genius idea. It begs the question, "Who was the ad wizard who came up with this?"
Well, I'll throw a bone to Jim Sias and the folks at Diageo who allowed me to have some one-on-one time with Bill Walton, who, as you would imagine is a bold man who knows how to celebrate. Not only on St. Patrick's Day, but throughout the year.
While everything Walton gave me was a fine nugget of wisdom, our time was limited. I wanted to get his thoughts on his UCLA Bruins, Carmelo Anthony, the Bulls recent play and, of course, our Memphis Grizzlies. I'm not sure what we learned, but as I said, his many responses were filled with earthy statements. Enjoyable ones.
The transcript of our conversation is after the jump. I wish I could do the "Bill Walton voice" justice, but I'm sure you'll do fine reading it in his tone, big man!
Tom Lorenzo: Bill, how are you?
Bill Walton: Tom, I'm great.
Excellent. Well, let me start by asking you about your work with Guinness. Is there a better time of year to be drinking Guinness than on St. Patrick's Day?
Every day is a perfect day for Guinness. We just happen to have the most unique harmonic convergence ever. With St. Patrick's Day, the start of the [NCAA] Tournament and Guinness. What we're doing is we're coming out with a call to action. A call to action to dream, dance, build, celebrate, to quit your job and chase your dream. And ultimately to make your job your dream. Who wants to be the kind of person who sits there to wait for the ball to fall in their lap? Chase it down. Go for it all. Chase your dream, be bold, stand tall, make a difference, put a smile on somebody's face. And what better way to do that -- albeit responsibly -- then by poppin' a Guinness.
Not that we want to advocate it (*wink*wink*), but for people who want to find a way out of work this week, with March Madness and St. Patrick's Day, do you have any suggestions?
Yeah, just call your boss up and tell him you got something better to do. Tell him you were listening to Walton on the radio and he said, 'Quit your job, chase your dream, be bold...' Make a statement.
I never met anybody who at the end of the line said, 'I wish I'd spent more time at the office.' Take that moment to reflect, to dream, to think, to meditate, to resonate what's really important in your life. And where you've been where I've been over the last four and a half years, as I climb back into the game of life, coming back from the dead, you realize what truly is important and that's why I'm here today. Standing tall, being bold. Willing, ready to make that difference, to be the difference, to encourage people to, yeah, go for it all! Put me in coach, I'm ready to play.
With the 'official' start to the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday night, I suppose you can call it that, what do you think about your UCLA Bruins as a 7-seed against Michigan State? How far can UCLA go in this tournament?
Let's just talk about the Bruins bigger picture overall. At the top of the pyramid of success is John Wooden -- faith and patience. Do you believe? 'Yes I do.' Am I patient? 'Yes I am. I'm willing to put the lifetime in it takes to get it done.' At the very bottom of the pyramid of success, the foundation, the center block is loyalty. Do we care? Are we able to do extraordinary things because this matters to us? 'Yes it does.' John Wooden retired 36 years ago. Thirty-six years. In those 36 years UCLA has won the championship one time. My pride, my loyalty, my faith, my patience, is unquestioned and unwavering. But, we the alumni... we like championships. Let's go Bruins! Let's get to work! Let's make some shots! Let's get running! Let's make a difference, be bold, be like Guinness. Differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Speaking of bold moves, as we shift to the NBA.. The Knicks made a bold move with the Carmelo Anthony trade...
And it's working out fantastic for them. [Laughs.]
Well, yeah. They've lost three in a row, including two straight to the Pacers...
Look, basketball is a business. We're in the business of sports. What has happened in terms of New York, in terms of the remarkable acceptance by the fans of what Carmelo Anthony is doing for the Knicks. It's just fantastic. Television ratings, merchandise sales, ticket prices, everything just going through the roof. And that's driven by the star power. It's just another step on the way toward the return to prominence of the New York Knicks. They've got leadership -- Scott O'Neil in the business office, you got Donnie Walsh heading the basketball program, and you've got on-court leadership by Mike D'Antoni. Chaunce Billups means so much to this team, you've got Amar'e Stoudemire is just fantastic, and Carmelo is finding his way making a huge and positive difference. It's great for the game of basketball that New York is climbing back into the game of life one more time.
What about the resurgence of the Bulls?
That's another fantastic story. You've got real players there. You've got [Tom] Thibodeau who's just done a remarkable job in a low-key approach which I admire immensely. There's no self promotion, there's no ego out of control, there's no hype. It's just absolutely spectacular what Tom Thibodeau's been able to do there. Derrick Rose is a fabulous young talent who can just run, he's so quick and so explosive. So dynamic. He's basically like a can of Guinness! Then you've got Luol Deng, if he can add some consistency to his game. Joakim Noah is a terrific player. They've got a lot of guys there.
What they really have going for them -- cause they're not as good as the Celtics -- is they're young. They can run all day long. And right now the Celtics are stinking it up, and there's a tremendous amount of pressure for Shaquille O'Neal to come back and deliver. And if Shaq does play as well at the end of the season as he did in the beginning of the season, the Celtics will win the championship. They've got a ton of talent there. Danny Ainge has put together one of the great teams in basketball history. It's a team that has to have things break right for them in terms of health and to beat the Lakers they're going to have to have home-court advantage.
In the Western Conference you have a fight for the final playoff spot and one of those teams who is primed to win that 8th and final seed is the Memphis Grizzlies. Once they get Rudy Gay back, are the Grizzlies a team that some of those top-tier teams won't want to face in the playoffs?
I like the job Lionel Hollins has done. Lionel Hollins and I go way back to the beginning of our NBA careers -- 36, 37 years ago. We were teammates on the youngest team to ever win the championship, and Lionel's finally getting the chance to show what a great basketball mind, leader, mentor, educator that he is. He's really done a fantastic job there. He makes people better than they can get on their own, which is a true test of leadership. With Memphis coming alive and really one of the great success stories in NBA we couldn't be happier for Lionel Hollins and the people of Memphis who really deserve better than what they have been getting over the past few years.
Bill, I want to thank you for your time and wish you a happy St. Patrick's Day. And good luck with Guinness.
Tom, thank you so much. Be bold, stand tall, quit your job, chase your dream, make it all happen... don't lead a watered-down life. Go Guinness.