Hall of Famer and NBA on NBC analyst Bill Walton, who led his Portland Trail Blazers to an NBA championship 25 years ago, is making history once again as he "Loves it Live" by traveling to 30 NBA games in 30 days during NBA Playoffs 2002. Join Walton as he experiences the thrilling playoff excitement first hand, which is passionately documented in his daily reports on NBA.com along with an exclusive “Where’s Walton?” map spotlighting his cross-country travels. Get on the Bus!

TUESDAY, APRIL 30: INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

By Bill Walton

THEN YOU BETTER START SWIMMIN' OR YOU'LL SINK LIKE A STONE, FOR THE TIMES, THEY ARE A-CHANGIN'...

There was a void left by Michael Jordan's retirement in many basketball fans' hearts when he walked away from the game. His retirement didn't leave any sense of relativity, credibility or historical significance to what was to follow. The ascendancy of the new stars that are dominating today's NBA Playoffs is now filling that void.


Bill swears he didn't pay this fan one penny for the sign of support.
Aaron Ryan/NBAE

We have witnessed the emergence of many top performers, particularly the young point guards who are ruling the early rounds of the playoffs... Baron Davis, Mike Bibby, Tony Parker and Jamaal Tinsley. The continuity that has traditionally benefited the NBA so much with the gradual transition of its stars was disrupted because fans had no idea that these young players were any good. They never saw them play successfully against Michael Jordan. Now they know... AND ADMIT THAT THE WATERS AROUND YOU HAVE GROWN...

At the airport this morning on another spectacular Utah day, we begrudgingly awaited our daily mandatory security search. An exercise that is repeated several times at each stop, especially since we routinely purchase one-way tickets one day in advance. We haven't been stripped searched -- yet. Stay tuned... AND DON'T CRITIZICE WHAT YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND?...

There, in the Salt Lake City Airport waiting area, we ran into a group of 12-15 young, freshly scrubbed, wonderfully attired students in their dark suits. These young Mormon missionaries were all fired up -- Loving It Live! from the terminal -- talking about their favorite NBA teams that are chasing the title as they prepared to embark on their two-year mission of sacrifice and duty. As we boarded the plane, the discussion roared on and we wished them well on their mission --- to save Pittsburgh...

Connecting through O'Hare to Indianapolis, we picked up a newspaper and read about the arrival of Yao Ming, the outstanding Chinese center, who was in town for private NBA workouts. We immediately changed our plans, scheduled a later flight to Indianapolis and jumped into a cab to go say hi to-- after Master P -- my newest best friend. I met Yao Ming and watched him perform in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. We spent two hours at his hotel today, talking about a myriad of topics. We can never forget that he's only 22 years old. Despite his immense potential and talent, this will not be an easy transition. But for me, the coolest part for me was that he wanted to meet my son Luke and Coach Wooden as well...

It feels so good to be back in Chicago. It seems like such a long time since I routinely visited the City of Big Shoulders and all of its splendor – the Magnificent Mile, Rush Street, Grant and Lincoln Parks, the Art Institute and the breathtaking Chicago skyline along Lake Michigan. The glory days of Bulls championship banners clearly long gone as hopes for number seven are as remote as O'Leary's cow kicking over a latern. At least hope is on the way. Since the team finally dumped Tim Floyd and came to their senses and hired Bill Cartwright, then made the trade for Jalen Rose and Travis Best, perhaps we'll be returning to this city more frequently. I can only hope...


Bill and one of Indiana's best fans with another interesting sign.
Aaron Ryan/NBAE

While strolling down Michigan Avenue in the Windy City, I stopped at a local bookstore and picked up some books by one of my favorite authors, Studs Terkel. I eagerly snatched "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression" (no, this is not an updated version chronicling the post-Jordan era in Chicago)?

As the plane descended into Indianapolis, I was overcome with a special feeling of pride. Even though I'm from San Diego and consider myself a West Coast guy, two of my most dominant influences in basketball and life in general are from Indiana -- John Wooden and Larry Bird... We visited the War Memorial and Monument Circle in the center of town. I keep hearing rumors that the city is going to remove the War Memorial and put up a statue of John Wooden, although Larry is lobbying for it to be him, instead...

Then quickly over to White River State Park, the indoor Botanical Garden and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. It is the premier Native American Museum in the Midwest and a must visit for any traveler... Indianapolis is also home to the NCAA headquarters. This is another unique place for inspiration, especially as you stroll through Hall of Champions, which showcases our history's greatest scholar-athletes...

The efficiency of downtown Indianapolis allowed me to visit the National Medal of Honor Memorial. Located on north bank of the Central Canal, a three-minute walk from the NCAA Headquarters in downtown, it's part of the White River State Park. This beautiful outdoor shrine pays tribute to the more than 3,400 men and woman who have received the ultimate, The Medal of Honor. I always make it a point to visit this sacred spot and pay tribute to those fallen heroes whose ultimate sacrifices have given us our freedoms that we unfortunately too often take for granted...

Thanks to Herb and Mel Simon -- owners of the Indiana Pacers--- downtown Indianapolis has emerged as one of the finer downtown’s in the USA. The Simon brothers' commitment to the state of Indiana and Indianapolis with their redevelopment plans has made Indy one of my preferred stops on the tour...


Bringing laughter and cheer to bands is one of the staples of the "Love It Live!" Tour.
Aaron Ryan/NBAE

I dashed quickly into St. Elmo's Steakhouse to get one of their special shrimp cocktails with the double horseradish sauce. I consider horseradish one of the four basic food groups, the others being mustard, onions and wasabi... Every time we visit Indianapolis, I'm always reminded of how great it was to spend time at the Deer Creek concert venue with the Grateful Dead. It prompted a memory of the time I took Larry Bird to a Grateful Dead concert in Boston. You always know when the Dead are coming to town, the traveling circus shows up in advance. One day at practice, Larry, Kevin and Chief came up to me and asked, 'What's with all of these longhaired people wearing tie-dye shirts and what are they doing here in Boston? Bill, do you know anything about this?' I enthusiastically explained the Dead phenomenon and they quickly became intrigued, asking if they could come to the concert with me. I contacted the band and arranged a little alcove to the side of the stage. Everybody on the team went to the show, everybody except Danny Ainge. His wife wouldn't let him go...

I introduced everybody to the band. We then sat up on stage, situated in the little alcove off to the side. Since none of the Celtics could go anywhere in public, particularly Larry, Kevin and Chief, this was a required private seating. Members of the crew brought over a couple of coolers of our favorite drinks -- water and soda -- as the band came up on stage. Everybody at the show was going crazy, dizzy with anticipation. The band was tuning up in preparation for the show. Jerry Garcia now ready, stepped forward into a shaft of light, looked our way and made eye contact with Larry. He then winked and nodded and said, 'Larry, This is what we do.' The band then turned it out for seven hours. After the show, the Celtics were wide eyed and Larry came to me and said, 'Can we come back tomorrow?'... I always asked John Wooden if he wanted to attend a Grateful Dead concert and he has consistently declined the invitation. He has asked me in return, however, that if I would ever like to go to a Lawrence Welk concert with him, he would be glad to get the tickets...

So many parts of Indiana with so many special stories ...Terre Haute and Larry Bird's hotel – Home Court. This is a really fine place because it's not only where Larry went to college, but it is also the home of Eugene Debs, the great labor leader from the late 19th Century... AND KEEP YOUR EYES WIDE, THE CHANCE WON'T COME AGAIN... Be sure to visit the Eugene Debs Museum in Terre Haute ... But thinking of Terre Haute and Debs, reminds me of the time I was the guest speaker at Larry's golf tournament and we were staying at his hotel. The hotel lobby is a sight to behold, bursting with all kinds of priceless Celtics memorabilia. We were hanging in Larry's suite, celebrating another Boston championship and I had to go to the lobby to do a quick, live television interview. I'm talking with the reporter, expounding about the golf tournament and the wonderful and deserving charity when suddenly a lightening bolt flash of inspiration seared through my mind. On the TV, which Larry was watching upstairs. I invited all of the viewers to come down and visit the hotel and announced that Larry would be happy to sign free autographs as long as fans came down -- right now! Suddenly, within 15 minutes, 2,500 eager, enthusiastic fans jammed the hotel lobby, anxiously awaiting their beloved hero... THERE'S A BATTLE OUTSIDE AND IT IS A RAGIN' Larry was so mad. Me? I went upstairs. Always the master of complete deliverance, Larry went down and graciously took care of every request ...

NBA STORE

Join the fun with your own "Where's Walton?" Love It Live T-shirt

There's nothing quite like a phone conversation with John Wooden. I regularly tease my coach these days about his early days growing up as a boy in Indiana and what it was must have been like hanging out with Abraham Lincoln and how could he have possibly turned down the opportunity to join Lewis and Clarke on their expedition. Coach Wooden explained to me that his dad wouldn't let him go because of family chores on the farm. The endless stories he tells me about his youth, growing up on the family farm without electricity, running water, or plumbing, and always the stories of his late wife Nell -- the only girlfriend he has ever had -- his junior high school sweetheart ... his ultimate teammate ...

At the game, it was terrific to see Donnie Walsh, the visionary leader and mastermind behind the resurrection of this once dying franchise. Now Jerry West has the same challenge in Memphis. I can't understand how Jerry, who could have his pick of any job he wanted in the entire basketball world, selected this one? I can't believe that it's just about the money...

David Kahn, my longtime friend, who I have known from my days in Portland and who went to UCLA to become a Bruin for life. I've followed his successful career from lawyer, sportswriter to television and now front office executive with the Pacers. The man who is largely responsible for bringing the dream of Conseco Fieldhouse to reality... Conseco, a gem that sparkles: structurally and historically. Strolling the concourse level, I marveled at all of the state's basketball history showcased there. I came across Landon Turner who saw his promising basketball career come to an abrupt end due to a car accident that left him paralyzed years ago. Reflecting the spirit and heart of a true champion, Landon is a community activist now and motivational leader in Indianapolis. We had a good laugh at the timeless rivalry between UCLA and Indiana (I can't believed I cheered for the Hoosiers in this year's Final Four. Who would have ever thought)...

Always a joy at Conseco, are the rabid, super fans who bring their extremely creative signs. My favorite is Matt Asen, who regularly goes over the edge with his, 'Chicks did the long ball.' This is something I have found to be profoundly true? YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS ARE BEYOND YOUR COMMAND...

Jason Kidd, a special player who couldn't get it done tonight. I have never been able to understand why some players can't shoot the ball. Even Magic Johnson eventually learned to become a great shooter. Imagine Jason Kidd, as good as he is now, if he could shoot the ball half as well as Peja Stojakovic? ...

It was cool hanging out with David Letterman's mom during the game, listening to the stories of Dave as a youngster. She said he was mischievous. Imagine that. She also told stories of Dave as a basketball player. I assumed that he was just a gunner, but she promised me that he was a real team guy who loved to spread it around. She confided to me how concerned she is that her son is not getting enough fresh air or vegetables in his life ... She went to IU and is so representative of the great people of this fine state. She told me the story of how he left home to go out West in his old pick-up truck upon graduating Ball State in 1969. But then again, I better be careful here. Didn't Ball State beat UCLA this year? That's another story for another day...

BIG RED'S
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“First to 65, wins.”

What is it with the CBS talk show hosts?! David Letterman and Craig Kilborn (Timberwolves supporter) are fanatically devoted to their hometown teams. Can't CBS find somebody rooting for a team that can ever get out of the first round?... A weird game tonight. It seems like they were trying to set records tonight for most turnovers committed in a game-clinching opportunity. Errant long passes and strange, confused decision making, nightmarish shooting. Fortunately, the game came alive in the second half as Indiana rolled behind Austin Croshere. It's stupifying to me that he doesn't play any more. Sometimes I have trouble figuring out Indiana's rotations. New Jersey was never able to find any sort of game tonight and now they are left with only their home court to fall back on. I said all season that this should be enough for the Nets in an Eastern Conference that a dart thrown toward the brackets would give you as accurate a prognostication as anything else I can think of... AND KEEP YOUR EYES WIDE, THE CHANCE WON’T COME AGAIN

The Pacer loyalists celebrated wildly into the night. Whether that joyous feeling lasts more than 48 hours, will depend primarily on a rested Reggie Miller and the fierce competitive personalities of Jermaine O'Neal and Ron Artest. It's a very short list of the number of teams that have won decisive games on the road. We'll see. Pacer fans are confidently holding their breath while wearing their colors ... As I close my eyes tonight and dream about the ultimate game in this brave, NBA new world, I am reminded of the Dylan-Dead Tour. When after listening to weeks of rehearsal in San Rafael, California, the tour finally opened at Foxboro Stadium, just south of Boston. Eighty-thousand fans stood and roared in unison, Dylan and Garcia walked on stage. The few notes of The Times Are A Changin' brought a level of happiness and explosive pride. There was not a dry eye in the house. The challenge for New Jersey is to somehow pick themselves up and find a way to duplicate the excellence of Bob and Jerry.

DON'T STAND IN THE DOORWAY, DON'T BLOCK UP THE HALL ... FOR THE LOSER NOW, WILL BE LATER TO WIN.