Because someone has to be the go-to scorer; or, Walter Bond, real and imagined.
Here is my memory of Walter Bond: 6’4”; husky build; not a penetrator; not a three-point threat; strictly a mid-range shooter and not terribly proficient at that, either, but … adequate.
He was not much of a passer to speak of, and while I suspect his defensive contributions were limited, I trust he worked on hard on that end.
I’m certain the Dallas Mavericks did not draft him, and while another team might have grabbed him in the second round, I venture that he might not have been drafted at all. Therefore, my suspicion is that he entered the NBA as an undrafted free agent.
There is one thing I know for certain. He attended the University of Minnesota.
Walter Bond played with the Dallas Mavericks for two or three seasons. I’m completely confident he played at least two. I believe.
What’s important about Walter Bond does not lie in the scouting report that I’ve offered.
What’s important about Walter Bond is that in the leanest of lean years in the Dallas Mavericks' franchise, well before a man named Mark and a man named Dirk surfaced, Walter Bond was seen as the Dallas Mavericks offensive go-to player—not a cog, not the “energy” guy, not the “specialist,” but the man.
I’m going to speculate that, through Walter’s forgettable year(s) with the Mavericks, his line read something like 14.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game.
These aren’t numbers that get you called to Springfield, but they were the best a Mavs fan could hope for in the early ‘90s.
But I want to make my point clear because I came to praise Walter, not to bury him (see Julius Caesar). There was a time, way before the continual parade of postseason appearances that we are used to now, when the Mavericks flirted with disaster year after year.
The bumbling leadership of Ross Perot Jr. and David McDavid that infected the team in the early and mid '90’s saw a team that, year in and year out, barely eclipsed the mark of nine wins set by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers.
It was during these lean years that we were pulling guys out of the draft, out of the minor leagues and off of the scrap heap as we tried to stay relevant. Walter Bond was one of those men and, so my memory tells me, he was one of the better ones.
In any team, there is a pecking order. While the pecking order might be fluid, it’s essential to have one.
A certain team in southern Florida right now has been debating their pecking order ever since their “dynasty” was put in place. Who’s the alpha male? Who do we follow? Who takes the last shot?
Jordan had his Bulls; Olajuwon his Rockets. Kobe and Shaq fought over this mantle until one had to go.
Dirk has carried this responsibility over the years for the Mavericks, except during the Avery years when Avery mysteriously saw fit to put the ball in an aging Jerry Stackhouse’s hands, time and time again with the game on the line.
Yet the man at the top of the pecking order in the early '90’s for the Dallas Mavericks was one Mr. Walter Bond.
On a roster that consisted of names like Morlon Wiley, Mike Iuzzolini and Radisav Curcic, someone had to take that last shot. Someone had to help lead us through the wilderness. Walter Bond, with his questionable athleticism and middling half court game, was that man.
I’ve since done some research to see if my memory of Walter Bond all these years later is accurate. Here is what I found.
I was correct: He did star as a Golden Gopher at the University of Minnesota. But from there, my memory betrays me.
I cheated him an inch; he stood at 6’5” and not 6’4”. He did play for the Mavericks (whew…) but only for one season, '92-'93. As for my memory of his style of play, I am convinced that I got this at least partially right. Only old YouTube clips (if they’re out there) might refute this.
His numbers during that one year? He did not average anywhere close to 14.6 but a far more modest 8.0. His rebounds were one less than I remembered and his assist numbers slightly lower as well.
Sorry, Walter, you live better in my mind than you did on the court, apparently.
Maybe it was just one game.
I was a young Mavs fan at the time, and maybe his legend grew, in my eyes, from one game.
Maybe it was in that ’92-'93 season where Walter Bond lit up the scoreboard, stroking in his patented midrange shot and torching his opponent, who clearly underestimated him.
Maybe it was one game where his confidence was ebbing, his chest was puffed out and he was demanding the ball like Reggie Miller with the game on the line.
And maybe it was this same game, where, with the clock winding down, Bond was given the ball and the opportunity to be the go-to scorer.
Maybe Walter Bond is so well thought of in my mind because someone had to keep Mavs' fans watching, someone had to keep the lights on at a time when no one seemed to care. Walter Bond, undrafted free agent from Minnesota, did just that.
Thanks, Walter. Hope you’re doing well.