ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Bill Walton’s broadcast partner, Dave Pasch: ‘He brought the best out of me’

May 28, 2024, 9:58 AM

Stories about how the late Bill Walton impacted those around him have circled in the hours since the Hall of Famer’s death was made public on Monday. Few of Walton’s relationships were as literally in-your-face as the one with Dave Pasch, who paired with the late Hall of Famer on Pac-12 games.

“As I look back, going to Syracuse (for school) … you’re taught a very professional manner of how to broadcast a game,” Pasch said when he joined Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday. “It’s traditional. We all kind sound a lot alike if you listen to a lot of the Syracuse guys in terms of their cadence and how they call the game. But I think I didn’t really let my personality out. First of all, I didn’t have a choice with Bill.

“It was good. He made me a better broadcaster because I had to think on my feet. I had to react. I had to determine when to stop him, when to play along, when to nudge him, when to go back at him. And he would egg me on. He would take his headset off during the break and be like, ‘Keep coming at me. Don’t stop. There’s nothing you can say that will offend me!’ Then he would say, ‘No matter what I say or what I do, know that I love you. But don’t tell anyone.’ So he brought the best out of me. He wanted me to be authentic on the air, because he was authentic on the air.”

Dave Pasch’s best Bill Walton’s stories

Pasch last worked with Walton during an Oregon-USC game in early February before Walton’s battle with cancer pulled him off the air.

The two of them grabbed dinner alone after that game — Walton would usually invite his wife, Lori, and other friends. They laughed about what had happened during the game.

Walton claimed he auditioned for the role of Chewbacca in Star Wars.

It was an off-the-cuff joke. But Pasch played it seriously. And news aggregators took the story is true.

“… We’re at USC so George Lucas comes up and I jokingly ask Bill how the audition for Chewbacca went,” Pasch said. “Not only does he go there but he claims that he didn’t get the role but George Lucas was kind enough to shape and fashion Chewbacca in his image and create the character after Bill.

“Now, we totally made it up. We’re just dying laughing about it and People Magazine and all these Hollywood reporters start calling and writing stories and finding old George Lucas quotes from the ’70s to refute our commentary and claim that, ‘No, George Lucas named Chewbacca after his dog’ … Bill and I are just dying laughing. ‘Do people really think we were serious?'”

But they had long formed a relationship where playing off one another on unserious matters became so natural.

Pasch remembers their first Pac-12 Tournament together was followed immediately by an NBA assignment involving the Golden State Warriors.

“I’m doing a sitdown with Steph Curry and we’re kind of getting ready and Steph looks at me, he goes, ‘Why didn’t you answer Bill’s question?'” Pasch said. “And I looked at Steph and I’m like, ‘What?’ He goes, ‘You didn’t answer Bill’s question.’ I’m like, ‘Steph, what are you talking about?’ He goes, ‘Bill asked if you’ve ever been inside a volcano while it’s erupting’ and you wouldn’t answer it.’

“I just thought it was so funny. … Like, Bill could disarm the greatest players in the world.”

Behind the scenes

Pasch on Tuesday morning via social media shared numerous text conversations that he had with Walton over the past several years.

“I was hesitant at first to share some of that because obviously, those were private texts,” Pasch said. “It was good for me, healthy for me. But also I think to let people see the guy you saw on TV, this is who Bill is.”

The best Pasch-Walton moments on-air

Walton’s many memories from his recent Pac-12 broadcasting work were often made here in Arizona.

Since his passing, Arizona State senior associate AD of media relations Doug Tammaro and Arizona sports information director Matt Ensor expressed what their relationships built with Walton meant to them. That was behind the scenes.

In front of the camera, it often led to highlight-reel comedy with Pasch.

Here is but a sampling of the many Pasch-Walton interactions captured in the past several years.

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