As a titan in the basketball world and a local hero anywhere within a two-hour drive of Pauley Pavilion, when Bill Walton speaks up — especially about UCLA — we listen. (He is also a titan in the sense that he is quite a tall and loud man, should you ever be under the same roof as him.) He made his thoughts known today about UCLA joining the Big Ten conference, and guess what, he hates it.

Walton gave many reasons he doesn’t think the Bruins should leave the the Pacific 12 Conference, which covers the West-coast, for the more prestigious and Midwestern Big Ten, with John Conzano, a sports columnist who writes at Bald Faced Truth.

In a poetic writeup entitled “UCLA’S WRONG TURN,” Walton outlines his argument with a bit of a Seussian cadence. Here are his main points:

It will hurt UCLA’s student-athletes physically and mentally

Walton said the move will have a “negative impact on the health, both physical and mental, of UCLA’s student-athletes / the exponential increase in travel on UCLA’s student-athletes will hurt them physically, mentally, and in their overall lives / the negative impact of the excessive travel will extend to families, friends, fans, alumni and everyone else”

The the profit motive math is upside-down

Walton: “the increased costs of joining the Big 10 will negate the projected increased revenue assumptions of this proposed move”

He later makes this point about what he sees as UCLA’s bogus financial forecasting: “I have spoken to no one, other than the highest-level directors of athletics at UCLA, who think that this proposed move to the Big 10 is a good idea / every argument made by these senior AD’s and why they like it, is about money / these same proponents of moving to the Big 10, are the first people I have ever encountered in my life / who have claimed economic hardship and limitations in Los Angeles, and that the solution lies in the Midwest”

It’s not environmentally conscious

Walton: “this proposed move to the Big 10 is contrary to UCLA’s and the entire UC System’s stated and professed environmental sustainability goals”

It only benefits football at the expense of UCLA’s other sports programs

Walton: “this proposed move to the Big 10, is all about football, and money / what about all the other 24 sports and 600+student-athletes at UCLA, who are responsible for 99+% of UCLA’s National Championships / how many of these ‘others’ are represented and willing participants in this proposed deal”

He signs off with his hope that, “this proposed move by UCLA, my alma mater, will be rescinded.”

It’s worth reading the whole thing at Canzano’s Substack.

Bill Walton is one of the most accomplished and well-known athletes in history. A star center for UCLA and the Boston Celtics, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. Walton has also enjoyed a successful career as a television commentator and analyst.

And while we’re agnostic on UCLA’s conference move, we are very pro-sports commentators, or really anyone, submitting press statements in long-form poem.

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