Bill Walton and the Secret Weapon to the Portland Trail Blazers Winning the NBA title in 1977

Bill Walton, the legendary former center of the Portland Trail Blazers’ 1976-77 NBA championship season, has died.

With his passing, I am now free to reveal the incredible story of the secret weapon that helped Walton lead his team to the title in six games over the Philadelphia 76ers. I consider it the greatest pot smoking story, sports or otherwise, in the annals of American history. Thomas Jefferson’s cannabis habit is second.

In 2002 I met a man named Jim Greer in Astoria where I was staging an event to assist the research for my forthcoming book about Vortex I, the state-sponsored rock festival staged outside of Estacada, Oregon in the summer of 1970. It had, and still has, the distinction of being the only event of its kind in American history. At the presentation I mentioned that I was working on a trilogy of modern Oregon history and after the Vortex book, I planned on releasing a history of the Blazers’ 76-77 championship season.

Greer was in the audience and came up to me after the presentation to say he had attended Vortex, mostly in the nude, and remembered it primarily because he suffered a bee sting on his penis.

He told me that funny story but wanted to tell me a much better story, this one about Bill Walton and that magical NBA playoff run that gripped Portland and all of Oregon in such a frenzy that is almost impossible to describe unless you were there—and I was and that’s why I wanted to publish a book about the spectacle.

Greer took down my phone number and said he would call me soon and share the story. I thought he was shining me on and I’d never hear from him again.

He called a few days later. I got his story:

Greer knew and was good friends with Walton when he lived in Portland in the 70s. (Bill still sent him Christmas cards.) He owned and operated a natural foods store (Nature’s if I recall correctly) in the hippie Lair Hill district in Southwest Portland off Corbett Avenue. Walton had been drafted by the Blazers out of UCLA with the first pick in the 1974 NBA draft and was a strict vegetarian with a decidedly counterculture lifestyle and radical left leaning views.

They met at the store and became friends. Greer became his pot dealer. According to Greer, Walton didn’t drink all that much and he found smoking pot after a game helped him relax and unwind in ways alcohol could not. Alcohol also dehydrated Bill and he didn’t want that after so much physical exertion.

During the playoff run, Greer accompanied Walton on away games to Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The team flew commercial in those days. Thus, it wasn’t possible for Greer to carry grass on the plane with him on his person or luggage without the high probability of being arrested.

His job, he told me, was to check in with Walton at the team’s hotel and then venture out and procure some pot!

And score Greer did, the Blazers won it all, and Walton earned MVP honors for his performance against the 76ers.

As Greer unfolded his extraordinary tale, I doubted its veracity and peppered him with questions. He answered them all.

I have no idea if Blazer management knew what I was doing. I was just considered a personal assistant to Bill. No one ever said anything to me.

No, there were no other players I scored pot for.

I smoked it first before giving it to Bill.

You want proof I was there. Go to the Blazers’ practice facility and look in the trophy case where the championship trophy is. There is a photograph of me in the locker room during the celebration after game six. I’m toward the back. There’s your proof.

A week later, I was standing in front of the trophy case of the Blazers’ practice facility in Tigard.

There Jim Greer, 25 years younger, was in the photograph. There was no doubt it was him.

In 2007, I published Red Hot and Rollin’: A Retrospection of the Portland Trail Blazers’ 1976-77 Championship Season, an anthology of personal essays and primary documents related to that monumental cultural moment. I begged Greer to let me include his story. He refused out of loyalty to Bill Walton and I honored his wishes. I opened the book with a cryptic essay called “Letter to a Source” where I hinted there was something far out going on with the Blazer victory and it had nothing to do with basketball. There was some kind of secret weapon at work.

I don’t know if Jim is dead. I haven’t heard from him since the book’s publication. I always wanted to ask Walton about his secret weapon. He never mentioned in both his two boring memoirs. He also refused to meet me for 15 minutes at any airport in the country for an interview for the book.

So be it. He was a titan in Oregon’s cultural history and I wish his spirit well.

And who can ever forget his mammoth dunk over Kareem Abdul Jabbar in the Western Conference Finals against the LA Lakers. It’s one of the greatest dunks in NBA history and easily the greatest shot in this history of the Portland Trail Blazers. No doubt he toked out after that one.