Where's Walton? ... Day 14: The Golden Shore, Revisited
FRIDAY, MAY 3: SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA
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!
|By Bill Walton|
THE LOVE IT LIVE TOUR REACHED ITS ZENITH TODAY …On the front page of the Detroit Free Press, a full-page picture of Ben Wallace – clenched fist pumping in the air, the conquering hero -- marching off the court in full exultation -- with a girl slung over his shoulder. It makes no difference that it was his wife. In the NBA, it's winner take all. That’s what the Love It Live Tour is all about as well … …CALIFORNIA, PREACHING ON THE BURNING SHORE, CALIFORNIA, I'LL BE KNOCKING ON THE GOLDEN DOOR … It’s great to be home. I disagree with Reggie Theus when he says that Sacramento is not part of California … WHERE WE REALLY WANT TO GO AND WE’LL WALK IN THE SUN … It’s impossible to be staying right across the street from the state capitol without being reminded of the one statement that Ronald Reagan ever made that I agreed with. ‘If the Pilgrims had landed in California, the East Coast would still be a wilderness.’ Over the years, I’ve learned that Reagan even got that one wrong. I’m a Californian, through and through … RAINBOWS END DOWN THAT HIGHWAY WHERE OCEAN BREEZES BLOW … Because of the time spent in Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Washington over the years, I have learned that those places are cool, too …We can only hope California’s current Governor, Gray Davis, realizes the importance of greater mileage, efficiency plans …
As I seek shelter from the storm and try to control the surging craze of the tour, I stumbled tonight across Steve Jones, who was wandering aimlessly through the deserts of Sacramento. It’s really sad to see what has happened to Steve – the mental illness, the dementia, the loss of memory – the loss of control of his own life. Hopefully, all of these major issues will be resolved by tip off today. Steve generally spends the entire week in the hospital and then receives a pass for the weekend games … I CAME IN FROM THE WILDERNESS, A CREATURE VOID OF FORM …
MAVERICKS VS. KINGS: This is the penultimate matchup of the 2002 playoffs. These are the teams where the last-one standing will have the best chance of upsetting the Lakers. While other teams have been waiting for the Lakers to cannibalize themselves, it’s been the visionary leadership of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the Maloof Brothers in Sacramento who have actually taken a different and ultimately better tact. This is no time to be mainstream. This is no time to count on someone else’s failures. If your success is predicated on your opponent’s failures, your success will be limited indeed. There are not any Proletarians or fence stradlers in this series. These guys have come with a fresh attitude: ‘We’re going to make the Lakers play by our rules. We’re going to make Shaq chase us.’
The game above, the computer below.
What Mark Cuban has done to revitalize the Mavericks has been nothing short of earth shattering. He has turned Death Valley into the Garden of Eden. In what, three years? It took them longer to build Hoover Dam! We thought Einstein was important in the development of scientific theory but Mark Cuban has applied his own Big Bang Theory in transforming this once baren environment into the Promised Land. We fully expect his next move will be turning water into wine. He should seriously think about starting his own religion. … The Maloof Brothers have done an equally superb job here in Sacramento, turning the franchise around. Unlike Dallas, Sacramento wasn’t mired in the depths of Hades. What these two new-age owners have done for their franchise has made it cool to be a Maverick and a King. Who would have ever dreamed in our lifetimes that that would be the case?! … YOU’VE ALL BEEN ASLEEP, YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE ME … ‘The Kings are the underdogs,’ proclaims Chris Webber prior to the start of the series … THE HIGHWAY’S JAMMED WITH BROKEN HEROES ON A LAST CHANCE POWER DRIVE … Earth to Chris Webber --- This is not about leaving yourself an escape clause. This is not about painting yourself as a victim. The run for the championship is about putting yourself out on a limb and saying if we don’t win this series, then someone hand me a sword, so I can fall on it. … WILL YOU WALK WITH ME OUT ON THE WIRE … After all, this is the Love It Live Tour. This isn’t, ‘Oh, darn. We didn’t get it done today.’ Or, ‘Oh, shucks, we missed our flight. We couldn’t get there.’ This is about the ultimate prize. This about winning everything. This is about the spoils of war. This is about carrying the girl off on your shoulder on your way out of town … I WANT TO KNOW IF LOVE IS WILD …
There’s no time to lose here. This is about matchp-ups … NASH VS. BIBBY: The critical matchup in this series is between the team’s two point guards. Mike Bibby did a great job against Stockton, ultimately outplaying the future Hall of Famer. Steve Nash is the key to Dallas’ whole game. Nash is more important to Dallas than Bibby is to Sacramento. The Kings have other ways to beat you. Nash has to be on top of his game for Dallas to advance. Sacramento’s strategy has to be to take him out … I WANT TO GUARD YOUR DREAMS AND VISIONS … NOWITZKI VS. WEBBER: Prototype players of the future: Big, talented, fluid offensively for the full 94 feet and excellent outside shooters. Whomever shows the determination and commitment to take it to the hoop, will have the upper hand in setting the tone here … RISING UP TO PARADISE, I KNOW I’M GONNA SHINE …While standing in awe of Nowitzki’s all-around game, I’m reminded of David Stern’s brilliant vision of globalization back in 1992. Was it only 10 years ago in Barcelona when the Dream Team displayed the immense gap between NBA and the rest of the pretenders? I thought it would take at least 20, 30, heck, even 40 to 50 years before the world could even think about competing with the U.S. on the basketball court. Until recently, there wasn’t a single player ever outside U.S. borders that you could say would even crack the 12-man U.S. Olympic roster. That is no longer the case. Looking ahead to the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, I’m sure David will be saying, ‘Why can’t we have Peja, Dirk and Nash on the U.S. team?’ … The breakthrough of high quality international basketball players also shows the tremendous power and reach of television and the Internet …
The Love It Live Tour, chronicled daily on NBA.com, is having the same impact …. FINLEY VS. CHRISTIE: A terrific match-up. Hopefully, Finley won’t be distracted by the unfair trade rumors about him being swapped for Yao Ming’s draft rights. Plus, we can only hope Finley’s back loosens up. Michael Finley, who never missed a game after so many years, it’s now all of a sudden starting to catch up to him. It makes Abdul-Jabbar’s and Jordan’s accomplisments all the more incredible. Doug Christie -- a terrific player, someone who I have watched up close and personal since my early days as a broadcaster when he played at Pepperdine in the early ’90s. Christie has brought a sense of individual defensive toughness and responsibility to his team. He is the first player in Sacramento franchise history to ever be recognized as an All-NBA defensive stopper (What? Reggie Theus never made that list?)…LAFRENTZ VS. DIVAC: Another critical matchup. Vlade is not going to be able to coast here. No smoking breaks allowed. Vlade is going to have to move, fly and play with a higher level of intensity and concentration than he has shown recently. LaFrentz will have youth, fresh legs, length and athleticism but Vlade still has the brains, the experience, skill and tricks … This is not about hype, we want to see whose got game. This is about substance … I hope we reached the level of the playoffs where people stop flopping and quit running underneath guys who are attacking the hoop. We don’t allow guys like that on our bus … NELSON VS. ADELMAN: Wonderful coaches who give their players free rein. This is not about choreographing and calling plays from the sidelines. It’s about coaches doing their job in practice and having the vision and dream of putting a real team together and ultimately, like a child becoming an adult, letting them go …WE’LL RUN TILL WE DROP …BABY WE’LL NEVER GO BACK …BABY WE WERE BORN TO RUN …BENCHES: Bobby Jackson, Hedo Turkoglu, Scot Pollard vs. Nick Van Exel, Wang Zhizhi, Greg Buckner. A significant edge goes to Sacramento here. The Kings have primogenitor on their side. The Mavericks -- Nick Van Exel and a lot of questions marks. Nick can beat you by himself or he can beat his own team by himelf. And he doesn’t even need the ball to do it …FIRE WHEEL BURNING IN THE AIR ..
"What is the record for cross-country flights in one week?"
This series capsulizes what NBA Playoff basketball is all about. This is the kind of series that I watched as a young boy and said to myself, ‘I want some of this.’ … BEEN SO LONG I FELT THIS WAY, AIN’T IN NO HURRAY NO … I have no idea who is going to win this series. I like both teams. The only thing I fully expect is that the ball will be in the air to decide every single game at the end of at least the third overtime.
The Celtics discovered some real magic last night. The stain of Pitino has finally been cleansed. Celtic fans around the world rose in unison behind Paul Pierce’s brilliant leading role and are chanting through the night: ‘Go Celtics Go. Go Celtics Go.’
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed in the decision not to try and play David Robinson. What are they even thinking? Tim, Steve, Tony, Terry and Malik, have to accept the fact that they have to go it alone against Big Shaq. Might as well enjoy this one tonight against Seattle
BIG RED’S QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"What is the record for cross-country flights in one week?"