Where's Walton? ... Day 21: Back in Beantown
FRIDAY, MAY 10: BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
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 Bus pulled out of Dallas at dawn …PLAYIN’, PLAYIN’, IN THE BAND. DAYBREAK, DAYBREAK ON THE LAND
… this morning with the damp humidity still clinging from the previous night’s thunderstorms. IF THE THUNDER DON’T GET YOU, THEN THE LIGHTENING WILL
.. Our pockets empty of cash, so disappointed, so disheartened, so frustrated that we couldn’t get our money back from ENRON .. Where is the OUTRAGE? Where is the ANGER at this INJUSTICE? Fortunately, Paul Krugman, the phenomenal columnist for The New York Times, is on the case. He has been leading the charge to see through the DECEPTION
, to fight seemingly single handily against the DISEASE OF CONCEIT
, the DISEASE OF GREED
, the DISEASE OF SELFISHNESS
. As Frank Rich said, a short while ago, ‘FREEDOM IS JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR NOTHING LEFT FOR ENRON SHAREHOLDERS TO LOSE.’
Bill boarding Boston's green line en route to the Garden.
The Bus on the highway noticed a familiar face, hitchhiking along the road, holding a sign that read, ‘BOSTON.’
We pulled over and this happy, smiling fellow climbed aboard: It was Mike Dunleavy, a colleague from many years ago, now broadcasting games on NBC Sports. Mike was heading to Boston for Pistons-Celtics, Game 4. Mike and I were combatants in the ’77 NBA Finals. We had a good laugh reminiscing about those days. Our attention then turned to the present and the stories about our sons – Mike Dunleavy, Jr. and Luke Walton.
We also talked about what a great job Gene Shue had done with that Philadelphia team, creating a family atmosphere, where kids can grow, learn and develop. When you look at the progeny who came off that Philadelphia team, it’s quite impressive -- Mike Bibby, Kobe Bryant, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Tamika and Tauja Catchings. What a a lineage of terrific all-around talent. As we reflected back on those NBA Finals 25 years ago, I was able to laugh because fortunately, OUR TEAM, won that series. It’s not whether you win or lose … It’s whether I WIN or lose that counts … WE USED TO PLAY FOR SLIVER, NOW WE PLAY FOR LIFE … AND ONE’S FOR SPORT AND ONE’S FOR BLOOD AT THE POINT OF A KNIFE … AND NOW THE DIE IS SHAKEN, NOW THE DIE MUST FALL …THERE AIN’T A WINNER IN THE GAME, HE DON’T GO HOME WITH ALL …
On our way into Boston, old friend Kevin Frazier flagged the bus down on the Mass Pike on this gorgeous spring day. The Bus stopped, he got on. He’s aboard for the duration of the journey. We then made a direct run to one of my favorite restaurants, Legal Seafood. We were starving. The lunches we used to feast on after practices at Hellenic College were legendary. Enough to feed an army, when really there were only two or three of us. Roger Berkowitz always takes care of the Celtics.
After our delicious lunch, my mind drifted back to the injuries from Thursday night’s Kings-Mavs, Game 3. They were still painfully fresh in my mind – Stojakovic, Christie -- hoping, praying that those ankles will be OK. Unfortunately, for Peja, as we just learned, his ankle is not. He will not be able to join the celebration that Game 4 in Dallas promises to be. It’s sad because you want the GAME to be DECIDED ON THE COURT, not in the doctor’s office.
Their plight brought back memories of former Celtics team doctor, DR. ICE …We called him Dr. Ice because no matter what the injury was, he always told us, ‘Just go put some ice on it. It will be fine.’ When we complained (‘I’m hurt really, bad, Doc.’), Dr. Ice would always tell us, ‘Hey, Bill Russell had that same injury. He never missed a game with that.’
With BILL RUSSELL at the (new) Garden tonight, it was yet ANOTHER DREAM COME TRUE on the LOVE IT LIVE TOUR. Bill Russell IS my favorite player of all time.
Walton with his "favorite player of all time," Bill Russell.
I was a young boy growing up in San Diego when I started to learn about sports. My mom, who is the town’s librarian, brought home my first sports book, ‘Go Up For Glory,’
written by William Felton Russell. When I finally had the opportunity to go head to head with Russell in a competitive situation, it was my second NBA season with the Portland Trail Blazers. I was trying to recover from the most DISAPPOINTING, FRUSTRATING
and EMBARRASSING rookie season that any No. 1 draft choice has ever had. I was ready on opening night of year two. Bill Russell was coaching a HAPLESS, HOPELESS
squad of heinous outcasts for the Seattle SuperSonics. By the end of the third quarter, we were annihilating Seattle. I was rolling toward a huge game – 30-plus points, 25-plus rebounds – ALREADY – and we were only through three.
During the opening moments of the fourth quarter, Russell looked down to the end of his bench and there was yet another HATCHET MAN, YET ANOTHER GOON, his name -- John Hummer. Russell called him up off the bench and Hummer’s first act was to race right over and deliver a sucker punch. I was soaring for another block to ignite yet another Blazer fast break when suddenly – BOOM!! Realizing that I had been cheap-shotted by Hummer, I chased him down all over the Sonics floor and in the ensuing brawl, I GOT MY LICKS IN. Unfortunately, I also got ejected from the game for fighting. As I was escorted off the court by several armed guards, I looked back one last time and there was Bill Russell – MY HERO, MY MAN, the author, the player, the CHAMPION, the standard bearer for the battle for human and civil rights – with arms folded and his infamous cackle heard barely above the din. BILL RUSSELL HAD WON ONCE AGAIN …BUT YOU AND I, WE’VE BEEN THROUGH THAT AND THIS IS NOT OUR FATE … SO LET US NOT TALK FALSELY NOW, THE HOUR IS GETTING LATE ..
We got to the Garden on the Green Line early. I could feel a sense of complacency as if the Celtics had already done their job … MOST OF THE CAST THAT YOU MEET ON THE STREETS SPEAK OF TRUE LOVE ... MOST OF THE TIME THEY’RE SITTIN’ AND CRYIN’ AT HOME … ONE OF THESE DAYS THEY KNOW THEY BETTER GET GOIN’ … OUT OF THE DOOR AND DOWN ON THE STREETS ALL ALONE ..The fans were not on edge and were not concerned. They know that this series is already over. It seems as if the Celtic players were already celebrating a SERIES victory, not just Game 2.
The game was as poorly played as any playoff game I can conceivably remember. I was sitting in my favorite seats with my friends, including Kevin Frazier, so we had no idea what Dick and Hubie were saying. There must have been some records set for futility on offense and there certainly were. It turned out to be the lowest scoring game in the NBA Playoffs since the shot clock was instituted in 1954-55 – OUCH! The biggest problem was not poor shooting, but rather, POOR STYLE … SOME FOLKS TRUST TO REASON OTHER TRUST TO MIGHT … I DON’T TRUST TO NOTHIN’, BUT I KNOW IT COMES OUT RIGHT …When you’re struggling, YOU CANNOT continue to GO ONE ON ONE off the dribble. WHERE IS THE BALL MOVEMENT? Where are the screens away from the action? Where is the flow of five as one? All we saw as a relentless pattern all night long was clear out and isolation. We just came from Sacramento-Dallas, where it is nothing but BALL MOVEMENT. Where there is nothing but CRISP HITTING, FAST-BREAK ATTACKING. This has to change if Boston or Detroit is going to have long-term success … THERE MUST BE SOME WAY OUT OF HERE … SAID THE JOKER TO THE THIEF.
Bill hooks Jack up with a T-shirt.
As the game became exciting and the crowd came alive because victory was in the balance for the home team, the tension was really building … BUT I CAN’T STOP FOR NOTHIN’ I’M JUST PLAYIN’ IN THE BAND
…During the course of the night, the Celtics scoreboard kept flashing this particular video from the late ’80s when Bill Laimbeer submarined Larry Bird, flipped him over on his already bad back. The ensuing melee was nasty. Once order was restored in Detroit that night and everyone was finally calming down. Larry Bird, who still had the ball in his hand, took that ball and rifled it as hard as he could and smacked Bill Laimbeer right in the middle of the face with it. They showed the video time and time again last night at the (new) Garden. Every time the ball smacked Laimbeer, the crowd roared ever louder.
By midway through the second half, the place was in a frenzy. The rock music that they were blaring throughout – remember, this is the only arena in the entire NBA that does not have dancers, male or female – was scintillating, invigorating and spiritually uplifting. People were dancing and having the times of their lives. The Love It Live Tour was reaching new heights by the breath. Then the loudspeakers played Todd Rundgren’s I DON’T WANT TO WORK … I WANT TO BANG ON YOUR DRUM ALL DAY … That put it over the top.
The fan who was sitting behind me kept saying to some people who were voicing their complaints about the wildness of the crowd, said: ‘Hey, if you came to sit, you came to the wrong section tonight.’ …MY LICKS WERE SO HOT I MADE THE TEACHER WANT TO DANCE. …
Kenny Anderson was absolutely terrific again … Well, maybe absolutely terrific is an overstatement in a game that was devoid of skill throughout. The effort was there, yes, but the style? I don’t know, I’M STILL SCRATCHING MY HEAD. Anderson made big play after big play and this guy is showing once again that even with the rise of the new young point guards that we’ve seen around the league, this guy is not ready to be pushed out the door.
Finally, the Celtics were able to hold on, in an incredible defensive struggle. Who would have ever thought the mental breakdown by the Celtics in the closing seconds would have given Detroit even the remotess remotest chance of victory, but the Celtics were luckily able to hold on.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
|“Where else can you be on a 30-game, 30-day tour, getting three hours of sleep a night and have absolutely no sense of where you are, who you are or what you’re doing and still feel like you fit right in?!”|
--Bill on why it’s great to be a fan in the (new) Garden
We raced out of the (new) Garden afterwards, and the crowd was ecstatic, cheering wildly for the Celtics …STANDIN’ ON A TOWER WORLD AT MY COMMAND …YOU JUST KEEP A TURNIN’ WHILE I’M PLAYING IN THE BAND
…We rode the T home, the Green Line, and it was just a crazy scene with people banging on the train’s roof: ‘HERE WE GO CELTICS, HERE WE GO.’
Rhythmic dance, the people exchanging shirts on the train, it was quite the scene. People were arranging that evening’s parties as others sang, ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together.’ …NOW I NEED YOU MORE THAN EVER …
The Love Fest rolls on as the "Love It Live!" Tour got back to our hotel. We can never thank our special security force in Boston enough. Even though they aren’t really needed because Celtic fans are so special and treat everyone with the utmost care, civility and decency, we must mention the outstanding work of our man, Jack. He organized the entire Love It Live Tour once we set foot in the (new) Garden. That guy DESERVES A RAISE. That guy DESERVES to be PRESIDENT OF THE (NEW) BOSTON GARDEN … EVERY DAY WHEN I GET HOME FROM WORK I FEEL SO FRUSTRATED … THE BOSS IS A JERK …AND I GET MY STICKS AND GO OUT TO THE SHED AND I POUND ON THAT DRUM LIKE IT WAS THE BOSS’S HEAD … I CAN DO THIS ALL DAY ….
As I try to put the wildness, craziness and weirdness out of my mind, I’m trying to figure out what is happening here. As I lay my head to rest, I am content and comforted tonight because everywhere I went in Boston, there was a low but building crescendo of emotion. Solemnly at first but then getting stronger, louder and more vocal by the hour, the rumble from the Celtic fans chanting, ‘WE WANT L.A. WE WANT L.A.’