bill-walton-tree-branch

Talking mushrooms with Bill Walton on a Saturday night might typically be the result of a fortunate weekend encounter or perhaps a dream fueled by… let’s say a bit too much fun.

But that’s what happened for the ESPN viewing audience and play-by-play broadcaster Dave Pasch during Saturday night’s UCLA-Oregon telecast. And all you had to do was watch TV.

Walton’s adventure before Saturday’s game involved going mushroom hunting with a couple of researchers. Along the way, the scientists introduced Walton to a particular species of mushroom growing on a tree branch that reindeer often eat. Hey, if it’s good for reindeer, it’s good for us, right?

Given the OK to go in and take a bite, Walton took a big chomp on the fungus. Take a look:

By now, Pasch probably isn’t surprised by anything Walton says or does. And really, wouldn’t most of us value the opportunity to hear Walton talk at length about many subjects — but especially mushrooms? During a free throw attempt early in the first half, Walton elaborated on what he either learned or already knew after his expedition.

“I have found that mushrooms only help you,” explained Walton. “There are basically three million species of mushrooms around the world. And here in the state of Oregon, we have the humongous fungus. Remember, ‘fungus’ is singular, ‘fungi’ is plural.”

Later in the telecast, Walton talked about something more pertinent to the game, showing Pasch the vibrating foam roller that Oregon players have been using for recover after workouts.

More interesting than the vibrating foam roller was Walton’s reaction when Pasch said he’d used a foam roller before. “That’s the first yes I’ve ever gotten out of you, in how many years now?” said Walton. Maybe the two rolled out some kinks after three hours of sitting down later on, perhaps while enjoying some mushrooms.

Speaking of which, Walton had the final word on mushrooms, shortly before halftime and preceding a ringing endorsement of Oregon’s national forests and parks that surely made the chamber of commerce smile.

“More mushrooms, no mushroom clouds.” Thanks, Uncle Bill. I know what I’m getting on my pizza during Sunday’s NFL conference championship games.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is an editor for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He has covered baseball for Yahoo! Sports, MLive.com, Bleacher Report and SB Nation, and provides analysis for several sports talk radio shows each week. He currently lives in Asheville, NC.