Did Jack Scott “Radicalize” The NBA’s Bill Walton?

June 3, 2024

Did Jack Scott Radicalize NBA Star Bill Walton?

Sadly, we have to note that Bill Walton (and Jack Scott) are no longer living. Walton was a hero for many where I grew up in Portland, Oregon. He was the star of an NBA championship, which I pretty much didn’t care about.

Later, Walton was doing color-commentary for college games. And I mean color.
I would go to my elderly father’s house to make him dinner, and there would be some college basketball game going on TV. One of the commentators was often Bill Wallace. My father watched for the game. I distantly listened for Walton’s wandering thoughts. He was great, like Ken Kesey, I would have loved to have talked to him.

Walton really caught my attention sometime around 1974 or so, when I was working for an ARCO gas station in Portland. Off the hill came a blue-grey older Jeep, with no top. In the back, towering over the driver and a woman was Bill Walton. We got them some gas and they were off. One of the older guys I worked with told me Walton was riding with Jack and Micki Scott, two members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).

Jack Scott was a “radical’s radical”.
In a lengthy article Jack Scott and the Jock Liberation Army – Cal Alumni Association (berkeley.edu) Scott and his wife Micki became radicalized after performing first-aid on “Stop The Draft” protesters at Berkley.

Quoted in the above article:
“One of Scott’s closest friends in Berkeley was Cal dropout Willie Brandt, allegedly one of Berkeley’s most prolific bombers, suspected of having a role in at least nine Bay Area bombings, with targets ranging from local bank branches to Berkeley campus buildings. No one was hurt in these bombings, which usually went off in the dead of night. They were meant to make a statement. 


And at Oberlin College:
“Among those brought on by Scott was sprinter Tommie Smith, of the black-gloved Olympic protest movement in Mexico City.  “
“A year and a half into his four-year contract, Scott was forced to resign amid a campus revolt.  “
Jack Scott and the Jock Liberation Army – Cal Alumni Association (berkeley.edu)

Among other things, The New York Times asks:
“A day with Jack and Micki Scott in the roomy house they share with Bill Walton, a member of the Portland Trail Blazers professional basketball teams, in one of the nicer sections of town, does not offer answers. The same questions remain.
Did they harbor Patricia Hearst or the other fugitive members of the Symbionese group last summer in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania rented by Micki Scott? They deny it.”
Scotts’ Role, if Any, in Hearst Case Remains Baffling – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

An article in “American Quarterly” describes the Scotts:
“..the Scotts endeavored to create a revolution motivated by the 1968 Olympics. They controversially wrote about and taught sports in a way that prioritized the needs and well-being of professional athletes and everyday people, rather than US patriotism and capitalism consumption.”
The athletic revolution | Semantic Scholar

People have speculated that the Scotts had influence over Bill Walton. After all, one of Jack Scott’s degrees was in psychology.
In a somewhat flattering article in “The Nation”, Walton was described:

“During Walton’s first three years in Portland, Jack and Micki Scott moved in with the star center, his wife, Susan, and their son Adam for three tumultuous years, much of which is documented in Jack Scott’s book, Bill Walton: On the Road with the Portland Trail Blazers. After the Carter administration dropped the government’s pursuit of the Scotts, the house became a place where people like Dick Gregory, Cesar Chavez, and leaders of the American Indian Movement, including Dennis Banks, and others, stayed. Walton played pickup basketball games with Banks, AIM organizer Russ Redner, and other activists in Portland’s Wallace Park. The book also documents Walton’s developing political vision during the mid-1970s. Around this time, Walton wrote an open letter defending Jack and Micki. It reveals Walton’s sophisticated analysis of US empire, political repression, and class exploitation..”
(Special thanks to @mattakersmusic on the Tweet machine)

While Jack and Micki Scott may have had influence over Walton, the star player could and had thought for himself. He was radicalized long before meeting the Scotts.

For that matter, Jack Scott was undoubtedly smart enough to realize that the SLA was a set-up. In an informative book by author Brad Schreiber, “Revolution’s End”, Schreiber describes how the entire SLA project was created in Vacaville prison:
(From my review)
“The subtitle of “Revolutions End” is “The Patty Hearst Kidnapping, Mind Control, And The Secret History Of Donald DeFreeze And The SLA”. The Symbionese Liberation Army, controlled by “Cinque’” (Donald DeFreeze), was wholly a creation of a mind control operation run by authorities at Vacaville Prison in California. Embedded within the “Black Cultural Association” (BCA) at Vacaville was a plan to destroy emerging radical and revolutionary movements. The program was run by Colston Westbrook, a black Vietnam vet that worked for the CIA. Westbrook’s mark was Donald Defreeze, a failed crook who became an informer for authorities to obtain soft-time and privileges within Vacaville.
In the course of the interaction between Westbrook, DeFreeze and the “BCA”, numbers of white radicals became involved in support groups with black prisoners, and one of those radicals was Patty Hearst. Like others, Hearst became attracted to the radical multiculturalism of working with black prisoners. Using false identification, Hearst was among a number of women that were allowed to meet prisoners for sex on the prison grounds. This must have been as exhilarating to Hearst as it was a reward for DeFreeze, who was in the grips of Westbrook’s controlled isolation and drugging. As the concept of the SLA evolved within the walls of Vacaville, Westbrook had hatched a plan to have DeFreeze kill Dr. Marcus Foster, the first black superintendent of Oakland schools.”

Here are some fun facts about the SLA from Schreiber’s book “Revolution’s End:
Page 83; Some SLA members hid out in the tiny mountain town of Nederland, Colorado (incidentally, my wife used to live there)
Page 191; Jack Scott helped drive Patty Hearst and Bill and Emily Harris across the country, hoping to write a book about them.

Of course, just like other groups that crossed the authorities, the SLA was mostly destroyed on live TV by having a shoot-out with what would become the first “SWAT” team, burning to the ground, presumably to kill and discredit not only the SLA, but an entire radical movement. This was a “Clean-Up Operation”.
It seems only the Scotts, the Harris’s and Patty Hearst survived by going into hiding.

Schreiber’s book “Revolution’s End” is valuable to see how the Federal Government sets up revolutionary movements of all types.

I have been tearing my office apart to try and find the book written by Jack Scott about Bill Walton and the Trailblazers. No luck so far.

We can now see that while the Scotts had quite a pull on Bill Walton (and anybody else they contacted), Walton was already known to be a radical free-thinker.
I will remember him for that.

-John Titus

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