Where's Walton? ... Day 20: Ringing Cow Bells and Seeing Big Fat Bellies in Dallas
THURSDAY, MAY 9: DALLAS TEXAS
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 ďWhereís Walton?Ē map
spotlighting his cross-country travels. Get on the Bus!
|By Bill Walton|
TRUCKINí GOT MY CHIPS CASHED IN Ö KEEP TRUCKINí LIKE THE DOODAH MAN... I am, indeed, the Doodah Man looking for some lessons in life...
Thankfully Bill didn't show us his belly, but a lot of Mavs Maniacs showed us theirs outside the American Airlines Center pre-game.
The Bus rolled on to Dallas and I am so glad to be here in this metroplex located in my second favorite place on earth, North Central Texas... AINíT NO TIME TO HATE, BARELY TIME TO WAIT ... WO-OH, WHAT I WANT TO KNOW, WHERE DOES THE TIME GO... Glad to be here, not only as the bus driver of the "Love It Live!" Tour, but also as a proud Californian and utility consumer. Iím here for two purposes Ė No. 1 -- to "Love It Live!" at Game 3 of the Kings-Mavs and secondly, to look for the money that Enron stole from us!...
Itís always special visiting Dallas. We spoke earlier in the tour about the power of the Curse. Who could ever forget about Dealy Plaza? Itís wonderful to see Dallas on such a high because Iíve been here for the lowest of the lows... I was the first broadcaster in Mavericks team history along with Hall of Famer Frank Glieber. The expansion Mavericks were such a sorry story. They couldnít win a single game. They couldnít even put a credible squad on the floor... DALLAS GOT A SOFT MACHINE... It was a team that Kiki Vandeweghe steadfastly refused to have anything to do with (as did most basketball fans in the beginning). Those were bleak times, indeed...
WELL THE FIRST DAYS ARE THE HARDEST DAYS, DONíT YOU WORRY ANY MORE... My second stint as the team broadcaster occurred in the í90s, a decade the Mavs dominated as the worst team by the numbers in the entire league. This time I was teamed with Alan Stone, another genius broadcasting talent... In the four total years of broadcasting Dallas games, the Mavs won a grand total of ONE game. Not just one home game Ė One Game! The Mavs were usually hopelessly out of it by the end of the first quarter... Zzzzzzzzzz.
I have other special ties to this world-class city. My older brother Bruce, who was an Academic All-American football player at UCLA, played for the Cowboys in the mid-í70s during the Roger Staubach era. Bruce was the perfect older brother. He was the one who would always put things in perspective, keep me in line and most importantly, look after me. When I arrived in Portland to become a Trail Blazer, Bruce was playing on Super Bowl teams in Dallas. My teammate Steve Jones took over the role of Ďbig brother.í They both continue to do so to this very day.
My dad, who is not into sports at all, is the proud bearer of both a Super Bowl ring and two NBA championship rings. Imagine that.
Actor Chris Tucker got on the bus with an autographed Where's Walton? "Love It Live!" Tour T-shirt.
Through my brotherís association with the Cowboys, I saw first hand what a special group of players and individuals that comprised those legendary teams. I have become friends over the years with the likes of Roger Staubach, Calvin Hill, Bob Lily, Blaine Nye, Harvey Martin, Ed ďToo TallĒ Jones, and Jethro Pugh (not to be confused with Jethro Tull). Men who represent great character, heart and are giants in the community. The man largely responsible for all of this, on and off the field, was their Hall of Fame Coach, Tom Landry.
Tom Landry and John Wooden were the best of friends. Wooden, like Red Auerbach, was constantly promoting, teaching and selling the game of basketball. Like Wooden, Red never sold himself. He sold the game.
Wooden would conduct his basketball camps throughout the summers at Cal-Luthern College in Thousand Oaks, Calif., 45 minutes northwest of Los Angeles. Itís the same location where the Cowboys used to have their summer training camps. Every day, Coach Wooden and Coach Landry would share breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I had the privilege to know Coach Landry, not only through his relationship with my brother, but also through his friendship with Coach Wooden. I quickly came to know how special Coach Landry was. I place him in the same class as Wooden, Dean Smith, Don Shula and Bill Walsh -- legendary teachers who had such positive influences on every one they touched. Things are so much different today. So many of our values have been reprioritized. What has happened to the love of learning? What has happened to the respect of the teachers? The guys who jump directly to the NBA often miss out on the greatest of opportunities. THEY NEVER GET TO GROW, NEVER GET TO GO TO SCHOOL. NEVER GET TO BE COOL ... TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL.
Got to the game real early. I needed this. The intensity in Dallas and around the country is just amazing as people are realizing how unique this series is. How privileged we are to be able to watch these two rising powers go at it... On the way to the game, seeing the helicopters swirling around, covering the action at American Airlines Center. Seeing the bi-planes tugging the signs, urging on the local team... After all of those years of seeing the empty houses over at Reunion -- when I used to ask for four tickets to the game, their response would be, 'Would you like 4,000?' -- imagine my shock to see, four hours prior the game, throngs of people standing on the intersections all around downtown, begging for tickets... RUN FOR THE ROSES ... RUN, RUN, RUN FOR THE ROSES ... THE BIGGER IT OPENS ... THE SOONER IT CLOSES... Who would have thought that this would be the case for the NBA in Dallas? ... WHEN LIFE LOOKS LIKE EASY STREET ... THEREíS DANGER AT YOUR DOOR
Dallas is no cow town, but Bill joined the Mavericks fans for some cow bell ringing prior to game #3.
The scene out in front of American Airlines Center was just as spectacular. All of the fans painted up. The team awards free ticket to the most creatively painted fans at the pre-game pep rally. The band was truly beyond description... COME HEAR UNCLE MARKíS BAND, PLAYING TO THE TIDE ... COME WITH ME OR GO ALONE ... HEíS COME TO TAKE HIS CHILDREN HOME... And then the Maverick Maniacs, a group of a dozen male dancers, each one of them in excess of 300 pounds... ITíS A BUCK DANCERíS CHOICE MY FRIEND, BETTER TAKE MY ADVICE ... YOU KNOW ALL OF THE RULES BY NOW AND THE FIRE FROM THE ICE... When this Midwestern City was coming back to the basketball world, some complaints were voiced about the lady dancers. Mark Cubanís response was to send out these Shock Troops. They have become the rage at the games here. To see them shaking and bakin,í itís truly a sight to behold Ö They would make Tractor Traylor so very proud. But as with Tractor in Charlotte, I feel sorry for the floor in Dallas.
They dance before the games, they dance during the games... I GOT ME A VIOLIN AND I BEG YOU CALL THE TUNE ... ANYBODYíS CHOICE, I CAN HEAR YOUR VOICE ... WO-OH, WHAT I WANT TO KNOW, HOW DOES THE SONG GO... Personally, I prefer the ladys and what a dance squad they have. The outfits make Spider-Man look like a piker... This group might have even passed the Blazers Dancers for the liveliest bounce on the "Love It Live!" Tour... WILL YOU COME WITH ME ... WONíT YOU COME WITH ME? ... WO-OH, WHAT I WANT TO KNOW, WILL YOU COME WITH ME?... Funny man Chris Tucker was clearly enjoying the zany, festive, playoff scene...
And then a game broke out. Who would have thought? Sacramento came to play. Adelman regained control and forced the Mavericks to play Kings basketball, with Webber, Vlade, and Scot Pollard ---HEY, I REMEMBER HIM! Whose decision was it not to play him at all in Game 2? -- controlling the basket area and Mike Bibby outplaying Litte Stevie. Whoís in charge of player rotations and substitutions over there on that Sacramento bench? Dirk did not have a good game. He seemed tentative and preoccupied... RUN, RUN, RUN FOR THE ROSES ... YOU DONíT WANT TO LIVE BUT YOUíRE CHICKEN TO DIE ... OHHH, YOUíRE CHICKEN TO DIE ... RUN, RUN, RUN FOR THE ROSES ... These are the games when you've got to let it fly, let it all hang out. Playing as the favorite is a much different psychological phenomenon than playing as the scrappy, desperate underdog. Only the greatest can deliver in the role of favorite. We learned tonight that the Mavericks -- as good, exciting and entertaining as they are Ė still have a way to go.
Fortunately, besides Cuban, Nelson and the terrific stars, they also have Terdema Ussery as their President. This Princeton genius, who I first stumbled on to in the '90s when he was Commissioner of the CBA and I was a broadcaster for CBS, is a polished gem who gives the Mavs another advantage. Watching the game with T only added to the "Love It Live!" experience.
Injuries -- a major problem. The breaks of the game. Doug Christie seemed like he was done for the night Ė or so we were told. Much to our surprise, he came all of the way back. Hopefully, he didnít take a pain killing shot. He sure looked completely healthy down the stretch. His plays were magnificent, critical and probably game turning.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
|ďIt was qreat to see Mark Cuban in his own tie-dye Dallas Mavericks shirt. How come we canít all wear tye-dies each and every day? Who are the fashion police and who put them in charge anyway?Ē|
Peja Stojakovic Ė what a loss here. We can only hope that he is going to be fine, soon. Bobby Jackson -- it would be shocking if he was not suspended for the visual punch that did not land at the end of a foolish confrontation in the closing seconds of the first half. What was he thinking? Was he thinking at all? Sacramento regained control behind the magnificence of Vlade. It was nice to see him get some minutes.
Now Dallas is on the defensive, one more time. The gloom in this magnificant temple, American Airlines Center, was palable, as we dashed out through the frustrated, disappointed and dishearted loyalists. The mood was made even gloomier by the thunderstorms that came pounding down as the crowd emptied out into the night... IF THE THUNDER DONíT GET YA ... THEN THE LIGHTNING WILLYou can almost see this series going back and forth, one victory one way, one victory another. The seventh game is still and will always be this year on the Kings court. If Dallas is really serious, they better get after it... RUN, RUN, RUN FOR THE ROSES...
On the bus ride to Boston for tonightís Pistons-Celtics game, Game 3, I finally had a chance to reflect on one of my personal highlights on the "Love It Live! Tour; time spent with Orlando Magic general manager, John Gabriel, over at NBA City... IíM GONNA WAKE UP IN THE MORNING, LORD ... IíM GONNA PACK MY BAGS ... IíM GONNA BEAT IT DOWN THE LINE... We covered a wide range of topics, from the future of the league and the Magic, to whatís next for Patrick Ewing. John is one of my favorites. Heís so honest and straightforward. He doesnít hide behind anything. Heís not running from anyone. He answers his own phones and he returns calls Ė Imagine That! There arenít any secret agendas with John. Those qualities along with his talent evaluation skills have made him one of the leagueís best front office executives for the past 14 years for the Magic. He reminds me of another first-rate front office guy and straight shooter, Indianaís Donnie Walsh. Both represent the very best of the NBA... Speaking of the best, Joe and Gavin Maloof have shown the importance of leadership in terms of creating a fan friendly, player friendly environment that everybody wants to be a part of. Never forget that the fish stinks from the head down.