Padres to hold Bill Walton Basketball Festival at Petco Park
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres figure if they're going to plop a basketball court onto the field at Petco Park, they better have Bill Walton involved somehow.
The Padres and the Hall of Famer on Tuesday announced the Bill Walton Basketball Festival beginning Nov. 30 and culminating with a game between San Diego and San Diego State on Dec. 5.
The court will be set up between third base and home plate.
The festival will consist of youth clinics led by Walton, charity games, community league games and high school games, plus whatever else Walton might think up.
''Anything that's basketball in this community that's big-time, should bear Bill Walton's name,'' Padres president Mike Dee said. ''He's the best. He's a community treasure.''
Walton said it will be ''an absolutely thrilling week. And I am proud, privileged, honored and humbled to be a volunteer for this incredible situation where people are going to come together in our city and play basketball in Petco Park.''
The game Dec. 5 will be the first time the major league park has hosted hoops.
The preceding week will be ''basketball 24-7,'' Dee said at a news conference.
Said Walton: ''We're going to make it fun. That's the goal of sports.''
Walton was born in San Diego and said his family lived downtown for a while before moving to suburban La Mesa.
''I've done things on this site before Petco Park was here,'' said Walton, who was wearing a ''Walton 32'' Padres jersey.
''I love San Diego, I love Petco Park, I love the Padres and I love basketball.''
Walton starred at La Mesa's Helix High before playing for John Wooden at UCLA. Walton helped the Bruins win two NCAA titles, and then won NBA championships with Portland in 1977 and Boston in 1986. He even played with his hometown Clippers, who moved to Los Angeles in 1984.
The Padres are expanding the use of Petco Park, including hosting concerts by Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift in the last year, and a first-round Davis Cup match between Britain and the United States in early 2014.
''They've done their job. The rest is up to me,'' Walton said.
Walton even suggested matchups for a Petco Park hoops double-header in 2017: San Diego State against Arizona and USD against Gonzaga.
All four of Walton's sons played college basketball, including Luke at Arizona and Chris at SDSU.
The full schedule of the Bill Walton Basketball Festival will be announced later.
There no doubt will be additions.
''Mike, what are we looking at for a postgame concert and party celebration?'' Walton asked.
''We're counting on you and your many friends in the music industry and we're ready to go,'' Dee replied to Walton, believed to be the world's tallest Deadhead.
''Only if I can sing and play the drums,'' Walton said.
Asked about the threat of rain, Walton replied: ''It'll be fine. That's a promise. It'll be fine.''
The public sale of tickets for the USD-SDSU game begins Wednesday morning.
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