Bus tour brings Walton back to his roots

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The inside is simple: A couple of brown leather couches line the front and back with 12 bunks beds sandwiched between them –  charmingly dubbed “coffins” by the mustachioed driver, Matt. A bare-bones kitchen stares across the narrow hallway at a claustrophobic’s nightmare for a bathroom.

The outside, however, is ornate. The decal features logos for the Pac-12 Conference, all 12 conference schools, ESPN College Basketball and Pac-12 Networks, all surrounding “Bill Walton’s Campus Tour” in bold blue lettering and accompanied by the golden grain of the hardwood background. Of course there’s Bill Walton’s likeness in the middle of it all. He’s 6-11 in person, but stands 13 feet tall when plastered on the side of a tour bus.

Pac-12 basketball: Every second counts

Throughout the next nine weeks, it will carry the former Bruin (and Stanford law student) from one Pac-12 campus to the next, allowing him to reconnect with his college roots and share his stories of UCLA basketball, John Wooden, personal reinvention – and probably a couple about the Grateful Dead – with students.

“There are no limits. Any subject, any topic, anything,” Walton said over the phone last week.

But, ever the conversationalist, the Pac-12 Networks and ESPN analyst doesn’t plan to do all the talking.

“I want to learn from (the students), too; What their dreams are, what they want in life, what’s on the minds of young people these days,” he said.

Walton has just one piece of advice for those he’ll encounter on his tour: “Come with an open mind and an open heart. And wear comfortable shoes.”

Follow the first leg of his journey at Oregon and Oregon State all day Friday here on Pac-12.com and on Twitter with @SarahKezele and #WaltonOnWheels.

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