Dan Le Batard discusses the passing of Bill Walton. Screen grab: The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz

As the tributes have poured in for Bill Walton, many have called the Hall of Fame center-turned-legendary broadcaster “one of a kind.”

But according to Dan Le Batard, he also might have been the last of his kind.

On Tuesday, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz celebrated the life of Walton, who died on Monday following a prolonged battle with cancer. After playing a montage of his unique appearances on the show over the years, Le Batard then discussed his legacy as a broadcaster, opining that there will never be another analyst permitted to behave the same way that Walton did on air.

“You do understand that no one’s allowed to be that anymore, right?” Le Batard asked. “You can be Charles Barkley on a studio show, but you’re not allowed to be on the broadcast and not respect the broadcast. You’re not allowed to be on the broadcast and not be partners with everyone around you and the sport and just do your own thing. There’s not someone who’s allowed to exist that way.

“I don’t even know who you’d go with on second place. Someone sits next to the play-by-play guy and is allowed to just be themselves and it doesn’t matter whether they’re talking about the game or not. They’re just being ambassador for entertaining and loves basketball, but doesn’t necessarily need to be talking about basketball.”

Mike Ryan Ruiz noted that in his later years, Walton was seemingly only permitted to display his unique personality on the Pac-12 Network (although that may have been the result of his reduced schedule). Both Ruiz and Lucy Rhoden stated that there were games on the network — which ceased to exist on Sunday — that they would watch only because Walton was on the call.

“Is the Dick Vitale, Bill Walton stuff, is that something that ends with them?” Le Batard asked. “Like is there going to be some young broadcaster who’s allowed to do it that way?”

Le Batard conceded that there are multiple play-by-play announcers with distinct personalities — Kevin Harlan and Gus Johnson come to mind — but also said there will always be a cap on how far they can take it considering their roles. Ultimately, the show settled on adding Walt “Clyde” Frazier to the Walton/Vitale class, but was unable to name any up-and-comers who fit the criteria.

While Le Batard framed his question around the idea of analysts being permitted to act a certain way on air, the reality is that unique personalities like Walton are, by definition, few and far between. That hasn’t stopped other analysts from standing out on broadcasts in their own ways. But in terms of pure personality, there’s a reason why Walton is universally considered to have been “one of one.”

[The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.