Bill Walton’s Insane Brilliance

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The news of Bill Walton’s death from brain cancer hit me hard. In the Portland Memorial Coliseum, there were 12,665 seats, and I had one of those top-row nose-bleed seats for the sixth game of the NBA finals in 1977. George McGinnis missed a 10-foot jumper from the left side of the key, and the Blazers defeated a very talented Philadelphia 76ers team to win the NBA championship. The celebration lasted for hours, and we drove around Portland to enjoy it, even though we lived 35 minutes away in Southwest Washington. It’s the only major sports championship Portland has ever won!

The Blazers were well-coached and had a number of talented players. However, Bill Walton was fundamentally sound and, when healthy, had no peers for all-around play. A few years prior he had put on a show in the NCAA National Championship game against Memphis State by making 21 of 22 shots. If memory serves me correctly, the one miss was him being called for offensive goaltending.

In response to his death, we are reminded of one of his famous quotes, “If everybody thinks alike, then nobody thinks.” Bill analyzed games very differently from other basketball color commentators. Some of his comments seemed insane, but most of the time they were brilliant. For example, Bill called the Pac-8/Pac-10/Pac-12 the Conference of Champions for years. People laughed at him for saying those words as if he were insane. Now the Pac-12 is being broken up, and we find out that the Pac-12 conference teams won 200 more national team titles than any other major conference with 561!

What Bill called “everyone thinking alike” we call a well-known fact. A well-known fact is a body of economic information that is not only known by all market participants but has been acted on by nearly everyone who participates in that market. In effect, you must bet against well-known facts to succeed in the long run in the stock market!

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