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Bill Walton: ‘John Calipari Is The Gold Standard Of College Basketball Right Now’

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(Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

It’s a simple question. Straightforward and direct.

Should college athletes be paid beyond a scholarship?

“What’s the value of the scholarship? That’s the question,” Bill Walton answered on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “If you’re going to get a scholarship, all of your expenses should be covered for the reasonable expenses of a college student at that school. And that’s why you can’t have the same rules because it costs a different amount of money to go to UCLA than it does to go to Texas Tech. That’s just the facts of life.

“And so, what’s going to happen,” Walton continued, “(is) there is going to be a settlement. And with all the action in the courts – and with the unionization for Northwestern, with the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit and all the different things that are going down – the biggest one of them all is Jeffrey Kessler’s anti-trust lawsuit. Because when you file an anti-trust lawsuit, and you’re Jeffrey Kessler, that is very, very big.”

So, what’s going to happen.

“It’ll all move forward,” Walton said, “and you’ll have the powers that be and you’ll have the guys at the top saying, ‘Oh, we could never do this. That would be the end of the world as we know it.’ As soon as you hear rich, powerful people talking about the end of the world as we know it if people at the bottom get something other than just crumbs, just know from experience and fact and history that that statement is not true.

“The athletes – the guys who are creating the wealth, the guys who are creating the product – they’re going to get more. There’s just going to have to be a better distribution of these incredible revenues they’re generating out there.”

Walton, who had stellar collegiate and NBA careers, was asked about the pressure of the Final Four versus a Game 7.

“I loved pressure. I loved pressure,” he said twice. “I loved the responsibility. I loved the opportunity. Just give me a chance. Just let me be part of something special. Put that ball out there. That’s why I love basketball. It’s the most perfect game. All’s you have to do is wait for the opening tip, and then it’s, who’s in shape? Who’s got a game? Who really wants this? Who can get after it? That’s what we’re looking for from Connecticut tonight. I had no idea. I thought Florida was going to pound them, and Connecticut made them look like they didn’t belong in the tournament – and they were the No. 1 team.”

Walton is curious to see how Kentucky handles being the favorite.

“You see the talent and the sense of, ‘Okay, if we don’t win now, it’s over.’ The realization of how fragile this all is (is setting in),” Walton said. “There was so much hype. ‘This is the greatest team in the history of basketball, and these guys are all going to be No. 1. We’re going to have seven No. 1 draft picks overall in the NBA this year. They’ll all be from Kentucky. Print up the shirts. Undefeated season.’

“And then it all falls apart.

“Calipari, to his credit, he doesn’t give up. He just keeps driving home the message, and then it comes back and they play this incredible string of games where it’s just so fun. It’s all Kentucky. They are the machine. They are the defining standard of what this is all about.

“But now they’re coming in as a favorite – and that’s a totally different dynamic. Will they have the edge? Will they have that sense of urgency? Will they have the commitment? And will they look at UConn as a worthy opponent? And thats tough – because UConn is not a physically imposing team.”

Walton is picking Kentucky to win due its advantage on the boards.

“They better listen to their coach because Calipari is the greatest advantage they have,” Walton said. “He is the gold standard of everything going on in college basketball right now.”

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