"I always felt that you couldn't have a better person than Bill as far as practice and playing games were concerned," Wooden says. "But those were years of rebellion for him. I felt, unfortunately, that away from the basketball court he was more of a follower, while on the court he was definitely a leader."
Shortly after the confrontation, Greg Lee, the point guard who had passed to Walton for 14 assists in Walton's magnificent 21-for-22 NCAA championship game the previous spring, was benched for most of the 1973-74 season. To be sure, Walton nonetheless went on to become the College Player of the Year for the third straight time, but his disaffection for "the Establishment" grew even greater. Further, it was probably no coincidence that the Bruins' winning streak, which had reached 88 games, was broken that season, and that UCLA lost four games, including the NCAA semifinal game to North Carolina State. Walton insists that the wounds of that season have healed. He says he loves John Wooden and owes him much. And he has used his influence to get Lee, who has played pro ball in Germany, a contract with the Clippers.
Early the next morning Walton is hiking again, loving the sky and the sun and the mountains. "I grew up here in Yosemite," he says as he stops to munch some fruit. "Every summer my dad would bring us up here for a couple of weeks. I can't wait until Adam and Nathan are big enough so I can take them." An occasional hiker passes. Some of them are oblivious, off on their own trips; others ogle the biggest human they have ever seen. Some stop and squeal, "Hey, I know you. You're Walton! How's the knees? How's the team? How about an autograph for my kid?" Walton handles the intrusions with aplomb.
At the top of Donohue Pass, 11,056 feet above sea level, a dude comes floating along with a beard and long hair and purple Coke-bottle shades. He floats right by with a nod, sees Walton's Grateful Dead shirt and mutters, "Hey, how's the band?"
Walton nearly falls off his rock. "Grrreat!" he says, just like Tony the Tiger. A while later Walton catches up to the guy—his name is Dave—and stops to chat. "I think I've seen you before," Dave says to Walton.
"Probably at a Grateful Dead concert," says Walton.
"Yeah. I guess so," says Dave.
Fruit is shared, and the two talk the language of the Dead.
"I know I've seen you," says Dave.