Bill Walton blames himself for San Diego not having an NBA team
Bill Walton, a Hall of Famer, active as an NBA player from 1974-1987 with the Blazers, Clippers and Celtics carries a heavy mental weight about the fate of San Diego basketball. The former two-time champion with Blazers and Celtics, and league MVP is a San Diego native. He represented the Clippers in the era when they played at San Diego.
But that period was far from the desired for both Bill and the Clippers. The San Diego Clippers, as they were called in 1978–1984, were bought by owner Donald Sterling in 1981 who made it his mission to get the team to Los Angeles. Bad economical management, bad administrative decisions and more, stigmatized the team from San Diego. Sterling’s only care was how to make a profit. And for that, San Diego was just not good enough. LA had a lot more to offer. On the other hand, Bill Walton’s career with the Clippers wasn’t ideal either. He suffered a lot of injuries during that period and he had very limited playing time due to that.
Now, 32 years have passed since the last time San Diego was represented in the NBA. And by the looks of it, it will still be long before it ever gets another team. But when Bill Walton thinks of this situation he mainly blames himself. A bit tough blame to take though, especially when taking under consideration Donald Sterling’s administrative actions. Nonetheless, Bill had a discussion about this with ESPN’s Arash Markazi and gave his input to the matter.
When you fail in your hometown, that’s as bad as it gets, and I love my hometown. I wish we had NBA basketball here, and we don’t because of me. It’s my greatest failure as a professional in my entire life. I could not get the job done in my hometown. It is a stain and stigma on my soul that is indelible. I’ll never be able to wash that off, and I carry it with me forever. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe it. I was injured literally the whole time. If I could have played we would still have NBA basketball in San Diego. If I was any kind of a man I would have just quit on the spot when the team moved to Los Angeles and said, ‘I’m staying here.’ But I wasn’t in a good place. I wasn’t healthy. I was not strong enough to stand up for what was right. I should have stayed in San Diego and done something else. I was very sad.
However, Bill didn’t forget about Donald Sterling’s negative contribution either. “The checks bounced higher than the basketballs when Donald Sterling took over,” Walton said. “The basketball was awful, and the business side was immoral, dishonest, corrupt and illegal. Other than that, it was all fine.”
It is obvious that Bill blames himself more than he actually deserves. The burden of not being able to give your fullest to your hometown is understandably heavy. But Bill’s fault was that he got injured. He didn’t hold back or didn’t care. His only blame, was his bad luck.