USC not the enemy for Walton

LOS ANGELES - It would have been difficult to miss the 6-foot-11 UCLA Bruin legend strolling deep into the heart of USC’s campus.

Making his way through the maze of construction by Heritage Hall on Wednesday, Bill Walton approached the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, which sits an overhead pass away from USC’s iconic Tommy Trojan statue. Walton ducked his head to enter the building, and, after a series of media interviews, approached the Annenberg Auditorium stage.

[Related: Bus tour brings Walton back to his roots]

Sitting in his customized spine-supporting black chair next to USC professor Jeff Fellenzer, Walton looked up at the assembled audience. Two hundred students are enrolled in JOUR 380: Sports, Business, and Media in Today’s Society, but numerous other basketball aficionados found their way into the crowd, creating an enthralled standing-room only environment. Former USC and New England Patriots running back Sam “Bam” Cunningham sat attentively in the front row.

Walton began the discussion with an observation that all Pac-12 basketball fans can agree with.

“If the pilgrims would have landed in the west,” Walton said, “the east would still be a wilderness.”

Walton went on to teach the students the importance of dreaming, as well as John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.

Pac-12 basketball: Every second counts

Naturally, Walton seized the opportunity to poke fun at the host school.

“Why would I ever consider USC the enemy?” Walton wondered. “I am undefeated lifetime against USC.”

Walton then presented his true thoughts about USC.

“USC is one of the greatest places of higher education in the entire world,” Walton said. “There are few schools who can match what USC has in terms of successful alumni.”

[Related: Read #WaltonOnWheels tweets from USC, UCLA]

One of the students asked Walton what the USC-UCLA rivalry meant to him.

“Rivalries are fun,” Walton said. “It is what drives us and gives us a sense of purpose. One of the purposes in life, especially at a college, is to inspire and get people to care. People truly care very much about the rivalry between USC and UCLA.”

Walton’s Pac-12 campus tour rolls on to UCLA on Thursday, when he will call the Oregon State vs. UCLA game for ESPNU at 6 p.m. PT.

Seth Rubinroit is a USC student and men's basketball beat writer for the Daily Trojan, USC's student newspaper.

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