In Jonathan Abram‘s illuminating Grantland article about new Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis, broadcaster Bill Walton recounts the 2001 incident in which Rasheed Wallace threw a towel in the face of Sabonis, his Portland teammate. The Blazers were playing the Lakers, and Sabonis was charged with guarding Shaquille O’Neal, who often gave him fits. During one play, Sabonis accidentally smacked Wallace while trying to draw a foul against Shaq. Wallace, who had a notorious temper during his playing days, was annoyed with Sabonis and later threw a towel in his face as Sabonis sat on the bench. Sabonis became red-faced, but did nothing.
Walton, who presented Sabonis for induction to the Hall of Fame, witnessed the incident from press row and regrets not stepping in and punching Wallace in the face. In fact Walton — like Sabonis, a Portland big man whose career was derailed by injuries — said he feels like he let down mankind.
“It was one of the lowest moments of my life,” he said. “If I was any kind of a man, I would have got up from that broadcast table and walked across the court and punched Rasheed Wallace in the nose. But I let Sabonis and the game of basketball and the human race down that day.”
I don’t know how you sleep at night, Bill.
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