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!

THURSDAY, MAY 2: DETROIT, MICHIGAN

By Bill Walton

AIN’T IT FUNNY HOW THE NIGHT MOVES, WHEN YOU JUST DON’T SEEM TO HAVE AS MUCH TO LOSE, STRANGE HOW THE NIGHT MOVES

I never thought we would be coming back to Detroit after Grant Hill’s ankle split apart. I broadcast that Pistons-Miami game three years ago. The Palace that day seemed like a morgue. But the current success of the Pistons is a direct reflection of the importance of leadership, direction and coaching. The quiet unpretentious non-hyped job that Joe Dumars has done here is nothing short of brilliant. His analysis of how to move forward, his gamble on Rick Carlisle and his steady hand have put steam back in to the Pistons.


Bill and the Detroit fans were ready for Game 5.
Aaron Ryan/NBAE
Who would have ever thought that the Detroit Pistons are better off without Grant? … Did Detroit really get Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins in that deal? … I ADMIT IT’S GETTING BETTER, A LITTLE BETTER ALL THE TIME

Paul McCartney set the tone two nights ago with a scintillating show at The Palace. Motown was in a groove early for the decisive Game 5 showdown … It was a raucous atmosphere, which surprisingly featured a healthy representation of Raptor fans who packed the trains in making the four-hour trek southwest from Toronto to cheer their Raptors on. Adorned in team apparel, waving Canadian flags, body painted delirious fans screaming at the top of their lungs while I’m thinking to myself – Is K.C. Jones driving that train? How can I get on it? …

The Pistons are a team filled with guys who are emblematic of what the NBA story is all about. Players that nobody wanted, who came from nowhere and made something out of their lives: Chucky Atkins, Ben Wallace, Jon Barry, Corliss Williamson, Clifford Robinson. Perceived castoffs who have emerged as unsung heroes of a powerful Piston squad … AGAINST THE WIND, I’M STILL RUNNIN’ AGAINST THE WIND, WELL I’M OLDER NOW AND STILL AGAINST THE WIND …

Williamson and Barry are two classic bench players who completely change the complexion of a game the minute they check in. Detroit’s fans realize this and immediately are abuzz the second those two guys get off the bench (Why doesn’t Barry play more?) …A dismal performance tonight by Jerry Stackhouse. He needs to regain his composure, skill, confidence and leadership for the next series and perform like the star that he is. Not like some deer staring in the headlights …He looked scared. …

I sat next to Spencer Haywood for the last three quarters tonight. Through the laughs and tears with this friend of 28 years, I learned so much that I ever thought was possible about the odyssey of this historic and significant person. His remarkable story is well chronicled in his fabulous book, “The Rise, The Fall, The Recovery” …


Bill bumped into Hakeem Olajuwon before the game.
Aaron Ryan/NBAE
Prior to the game, down on the floor, hanging with my kind of fans, I bumped into one of my favorite players of all time. One of the few in the league that I actually played against, Hakeem Olajuwon, easily one of the top five centers in NBA history. His performance in the 1994 and ’95 seasons is as great as they come. His mere presence invigorates, rejuvenates, inspires and just plain makes me feel better …

It doesn’t seem like a Detroit game any more, without the late, Leon the Barber. A man with the most venomous tongue in league history. A fan who it’s best to stay out of his sights but a man everyone truly loved … Rick Carlisle and I go back to my days on the Celtics. I couldn’t be happier and more proud of his success. He is someone who struggled to play in the NBA yet persevered. It was his determination and persistence to do whatever it took to make his mark. He worked so diligently to achieve his goals. It was always a nightmare with Rick at Celtic practices. So fresh and fired up. He rarely played in the games and he treated every practice like it was the seventh game of the NBA Finals. Great.

Every day, he matched up with DJ, who at the time, was playing 45 minutes a night. DJ used practice as a meditation session to tune up but Carlisle wouldn’t have any of that. He wanted to mix things up. We would get so mad at Rick. He was just playing too rough against Dennis and we needed DJ if we were ever going to have a chance at the championship …

Carlisle is representative of the new breed of coaches in the NBA. He learned the game as a role player as part of a championship level team. He discovered what it took to be a winner. He is a man of unquestioned character, credibility, integrity and work ethic -- all the positive attributes you want and need in a leader…

NBA STORE

Join the fun with your own "Where's Walton?" Love It Live T-shirt
My early days battling the Pistons – Cobo Hall, Dave Bing, Archie Clarke and Bob Lanier, legendary players who have given their lives to make the world and basketball a better place. Bob Lanier continues to make a difference as the special assistant to David Stern in his role as community activist … Bing, Clarke and Lanier, all so active in the Players Association as well the Retired Players Association. They are articulate, intelligent men who could have easily rested nicely in their Mansions on the Hill but instead devote their time and intelligence to ensure that other people’s dreams come true. Three men who aren’t merely your teammates or your peers; they’re your friends. They represent the very best of humanity …

The Celtic-Piston rivalries of Bird, Parish, McHale vs. Isiah, Laimbeer, Dumars… Bird stealing Isiah’s Pass (particularly Larry’s commendation to Zeke. More turkeys later) … Red Auerbach saying the only time he got made at the Chief was because he didn’t think he punched Bill Laimbeer hard enough …The class of Chuck Daly … Have we come so far that Bill Laimbeer is actually now a nice guy? How long do we have to wait on this one?

Lenny Wilkens was my first pro coach but because I couldn’t deliver for him due to injuries, he got fired. It was one of the bleakest days of my life. I immediately visited Lenny at his house and we had a long, sad talk. I apologized profusely for failing to make it happen … What a class act, Lenny Wilkens. He has taught me so much … My game was based on quickness, timing and positioning. The tips, techniques and fundamentals I learned from Lenny served me for my entire career, both on and off the court …What an honor it was for me to devour his latest book, “Unguarded” with Terry Pluto. It’s a masterpiece of human history over the last 50 years. The obstacles and adversity that Lenny has had to overcome represents one of the great success stories in Americana …LIKE A ROCK, I WAS AS STRONG AS I CAN BE, LIKE A ROCK, NOTHIN’ EVER GOT TO ME …

BIG RED'S
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“ “Leon the Barber’s wit, humor, biting sarcasm and precise daggers always rang the loudest of bells. For he knew, it was always best to speak the truth. That way, you never have to remember a story.”
My mind wandering during the timeouts to Game 5 in Boston -- Philly at the Celtics. Are the Celtics for real? We know that Philadelphia is. We learned that last year. The Sixers are going to play a terrific game tonight. Boston won’t be able to back into this one. There is no time to lose here and you can’t play conservatively in the biggest of games. That means running. The Celtics will need to sustain the highest level of determination, commitment, effort, mental analysis and toughness. They’re going to have to run, run and run some more because for the Celtics to win, they’re going to have to make Philadelphia quit. That will be their most daunting task. The Celtic fans have their work cut out for them on Friday. They need to provide the energy to drive the train and fill the team with so much love, that no one ever gets tired …

Someone needs to start the march on Boston Garden, oops, the FleetCenter, excuse me, I got carried away here. The march from the west, heading down Storrow Drive. Everyone clad in green, beating on the drums, playing bugles, picking up fans along the way. The march would definitely have to swing by the Philadelphia hotel to make sure that the fire alarms are working perfectly …

Duty calls for me in Sacramento this Saturday, where the Mavericks and Kings tip off the best of the second-round series. I’ll be back in California where the climate suits my clothes, Lovin’ It Live with friends and NBA colleagues (can they possibly be the same people?!) …

The Seattle-San Antonio series has run the gamut of emotions: from brilliant performances to a father’s death, to game’s where you wish they had a mercy rule and the videotape had not yet invented. The Spurs can only hope that Tim Duncan will be able to play. Whatever Tim decides, we know it will be the right decision. We’re with you, big guy.

Seattle has nothing to lose. Gary Payton will have to play the game of his life. The Alamodome, the Boston Gar … Oops, the Fleet Center … what choices do we have! Flip a coin -- that’s how good it gets on the Love It Live Tour… THE FIRE INSIDE, FIRE INSIDE …I’M STILL WORKING ON MY NIGHT MOVES AS THE SUN BREAKS THE MORNING RED SKY.