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Basketball broadcaster Bill Walton’s ‘Ghostbusters’ claim apparently is true

UPDATED: Sat., Jan. 26, 2019, 7:36 p.m.

ESPN announcer Bill Walton gets some love from the Kennel Club members before the Gonzaga/Washington game Dec. 5  in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
ESPN announcer Bill Walton gets some love from the Kennel Club members before the Gonzaga/Washington game Dec. 5 in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
By Matt Bonesteel Washington Post

If Pac-12 men’s basketball has a reason for existence in this downtrodden season for the conference, it’s to give Bill Walton a vehicle to say all sorts of crazy stuff during ESPN’s broadcasts of its games.

Such was the case Thursday night, when Walton was on the mic alongside Dave Pasch, his long-suffering straight man/play-by-play announcer, for the call of the Washington-Oregon game.

Midway through the second half, Walton for some reason felt the need to claim that he had been in “Ghostbusters” (the 1984 original, not the remake). As far as Nexis/Google searches can tell, this is the first time Walton has said this.

“Were you one of the ghosts? Were you the ghost that slimed Bill Murray?” Pasch, who said he has seen the film “100 times,” asked Walton (Awful Announcing has the clips).

“Just check out the movie, OK, will you?” Walton replied.

This continued for a bit longer, with Pasch asking whether Walton had starred as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and Walton replying, “What’s that?” which isn’t exactly something a person asks if they truly had been in “Ghostbusters.” Yet Walton continued to insist that he had been in the film.

“You just go back and watch the movie and I’ll take care of the rest here,” he told Pasch.

Luckily, a Washington fan and Reddit user named “insectlawyer” did exactly that, combing through “Ghostbusters” to see if Walton’s claim held water. After going through nearly the entire movie, which the Reddit user said features a “surprising” number of extras who were both tall and had curly red hair like Walton’s at the time, the real deal appears to show up in a blurry background shot during the closing credits.

“Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman told the Hollywood Reporter in 2016 that the movie’s on-location filming took place in New York City for “six weeks solid” starting in mid-October 1983 (interiors were shot at sound stages and at various locations in Southern California after that). At the time, Walton was playing for the San Diego Clippers. According to his Basketball Reference game log from that season, Walton and the Clippers visited New York to play the Knicks on Nov. 11, 1983, putting him in the city squarely during filming of the movie’s New York scenes (he had 18 points and seven rebounds in the 116-95 Clippers loss).

And it’s not like Walton didn’t have time to make his cameo: The Clippers’ previous game was three days earlier against the Washington Bullets in Landover, Maryland. They got a nice little break in the Big Apple ahead of their game against the Knicks, and apparently Walton found a way to insinuate himself into the shot.

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