Support BikePortland

Massive crowd helps Bill Walton boost Blazers and bicycling spirit

Posted by on August 26th, 2019 at 8:59 am

Walton led a huge crowd over the Broadway Bridge.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Over 40 years have passed since former Portland Trail Blazer Bill Walton brought NBA championship glory to our city.

Mr. Walton, will you sign my helmet?

But if you saw the massive crowds of adoring fans who showed up for his bike ride yesterday, you’d have thought it happened last week.

The Blazers, who celebrate 50 seasons as a franchise this year, called on Walton to deliver on a bike ride aimed at stoking nostalgia and enthusiasm. Known for his love of riding and scheduled on the same day as Sunday Parkways, the event masterfully melded two of Portland’s most beloved pastimes: bicycling and basketball.

The plaza outside Veterans Memorial Coliseum was a sea of red as everyone waited for the 66-year-old, 6-foot 11-inch Walton to emerge. When he finally pushed through the coliseum doors wearing a skin-tight red Blazers cycling jersey and shorts emblazoned with his trademark tie-dye pattern, fans swarmed. His red hair and beaming smile — hard to miss as he towered over the crowd — were a beacon. Walton only made it a few yards before he began greeting fans and sharing his autograph. He signed everything pushed in front of him, from bike helmets and bike frames to jerseys.

Advertisement


In keeping with the theme of the day, Portlander Paul Glahn brought a copy of Bill Walton’s Total Book of Bicycling (1985, Bantam). David Smith showed up with Bill Walton socks and brought a rare #33 Helix High School jersey for the big man to sign.

When it was time to ride, Walton took to a mic at the center of the plaza.

“When you get confused, ride your bike and listen to the music play,” he crooned, riffing off Grateful Dead lyrics, “The first days are the hardest days, don’t worry about it no. When life looks like easy street there’s danger at your door. What I want to know is, can you ride your bike? Are you kind? And will you come with us? Here we go!”

And with that, Walton threw a leg over his Holland Cycles road bike (custom painted with Dead Head graphics of course) and led his diverse legion of fans over the Broadway Bridge and into downtown.


— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

7 Comments
  • Avatar
    bikeninja August 26, 2019 at 9:21 am

    Thanks Jonathan, This one makes me smile.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Avatar
    Jim Lee August 26, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Where was Jerry Garcia?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    mh August 26, 2019 at 10:28 am

    He looks really good. Leaving pro sports was a lifesaver.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Avatar
      Huey Lewis August 27, 2019 at 8:31 am

      What does this mean? Lots of former NBA players look great. Maybe not Barkley or Glen Davis, but mostly those guys are in great shape.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    Toby Keith August 26, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    Meh. I get the nostalgia and everything, but Bill Walton has talked a lot of trash about Portland for many years.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Avatar
    The News August 28, 2019 at 7:36 am

    So where do I get a bike jersey like that? Who knows what logo is on his jersey?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Steven Saslow August 28, 2019 at 10:56 am

    HOORAY! Thankyou, Mr Wallton!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar