Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Batman and Robin. Dave and Bill.
One of these duos is not like the others. Or any others for that matter.
Tonight, for the first time in the 2018-19 college basketball season, ESPN’s Dave Pasch and The Universe’s Bill Walton reunite courtside in Spokane as Washington visits No. 1 Gonzaga (ESPN2, 11 p.m. ET). It will mark the start of the duo’s seventh season together calling mostly Pac-12 games, yet it signifies much more than that for the oddest of odd couples.
“Getting ready for a season with Bill Walton takes mental, physical and spiritual toughness,” said Pasch, who “loaned” his regular partner to play-by-play man Jason Benetti for the Maui Jim Maui Invitational last month.
Benetti, as seen above, was more than ready to return Walton to his rightful seat alongside Pasch. As Benetti learned, it takes a special person – and special preparation – to endure the meandering, long, strange trip Walton guides his partner and the audience through.
Here, in three parts, is how Pasch got himself ready for Walton’s World – a place he’ll inhabit again with the UCLA legend when Notre Dame visits Pauley Pavilion Saturday (ESPN2, 10:30 p.m.).
Anna Negron and Emily Archacki produced the video above.
Part of my routine to prepare for Bill is to ponder any non-basketball related information that may come up during the broadcast, whether it be about solar power, volcanic formations, great moments in Arbor Day history or recent Grateful Dead concerts in the area. You never know who is listening, and considering Bill has received in game text messages from everyone from Larry Bird to Mick Fleetwood, you have to be ready to discuss, redirect, or just plain ignore the arbitrary and insane.
Watching and re-watching the original “Karate Kid,” while practicing Ralph Macchio’s crane kick has helped my physical preparation for a grueling season with Bill. As the character Daniel LaRusso was picked on in that movie, I too have been hit by Bill with a blocking pad, boxed out by Bill while calling a three-pointer and have had him dump popcorn on my head while on camera. “Wax on-Wax off,” “sand the floor,” and the always underrated “paint the fence” techniques are ready to be employed in 2018-19 if necessary.
These particular demons only come out through prayer and fasting. Or a trip to Walton’s backyard teepee, which ain’t gonna happen! So, countless hours are spent in prayer in preparation for the spiritual battle that awaits.
Here is a story that sums up the experience. Two years ago we called a Cleveland Cavaliers game. After LeBron James made a free throw and started backpedaling downcourt, he looked over at the broadcast table, and noticed that Bill was calling the game. He doubled over in laughter and almost tripped over his own two feet. LeBron taught me a lot that day. It’s okay to double over in laughter, or pain, when working with Bill. However, if I’m not mentally, physically and spiritually prepared for what awaits, stumbling over my own two feet is inevitable.
After 9 months of separation/therapy…it’s time for that long, strange trip to begin once again. Tomorrow night, Washington at #1 Gonzaga. I’m ready for his bull sit. pic.twitter.com/r1TKAswhDL
— Dave Pasch (@DavePasch) December 5, 2018