Where's Walton? ... Day 26: Waiting, Waiting and Finally Watching K-Mart Throw it Down in N.J.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 15: EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY
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|
THROW IT DOWN!!! THROW IT DOWN!!! C’MON, R.J., C’MON KENYON, THROW IT DOWN!!
MUST BE GETTING EARLY, CLOCKS ARE RUNNING LATE …PAINT MY LOVE A MORNING SKY … IT’S ALL RIGHT … I WILL GET BY … I WILL SURVIVE… CAPTAIN JACK, realizing that there is NO TIME to lose, took an hour off of our normal three hours of peaceful, restful sleep. He knows better than MOST that the "Love It Live!" Tour has become exactly like the old days of the DEAD TOUR where each day gets SHORTER and shorter…
Celebrities like Jay-Z jump on the "Love It Love!" Tour and catch Nets playoff fever.
Those experienced TOUR HEADS know exactly the feeling of ANXIETY, OF ANGST, of LIFE slipping away … CAPTAIN JACK has worked as hard as I’VE EVER SEEN a man to get us to NEW JERSEY on time … EVERYBODY SEEMS TO WONDER WHAT IT’S LIKE DOWN HERE …I GOTTA GET AWAY FROM THIS DAY-TO-DAY RUNNING AROUND … EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE …EVERYBODY, EVERYBODY KNOWS …EVERYBODY KNOWS
THROW IT DOWN!!! THROW IT DOWN!!! C’MON!!!
Getting to the show is always the most intense part of life. Once you’re in, it’s easy … but the trip there, that’s SO HARD … the inevitable questions, ‘Why does it take so long?’… ‘Where is everyone going?’ ‘Why can’t they already be there?’ …CAPTAIN JACK is under STRICT orders from everyone on the Bus, NOT to Listen to a word I SAY in terms of getting to the show …THE BUS was reduced to a painful crawl, as it exited the LINCOLN TUNNEL… The arena was within sight but THAT glorious vision served as A MERE TEASE. Despite CAPTAIN JACK’S VALIANT EFFORTS to advance the Bus to Route 3W, it all proved FUTILE – THEN, -- SUDDENLY – the CAPTAIN – in true Jason Kidd style -- found a seam and we HYPERSPACED to the CRAZY, "LOVE IT LIVE!" ATMOSPHERE of the Arena parking lot …CAPTAIN JACK, YOU NEVER CEASE TO AMAZE .
THROW IT DOWN!! C’MON, R.J., THROW IT DOWN!!!
Tonight is the NIGHT THE CURSE GETS BROKEN … TONIGHT is the night that DREAMS COME TRUE .. IF I COULD TAKE ONE MOMENT INTO MY HANDS … MISTER I AIN’T A BOY NO I’M A MAN … AND I BELIEVE IN A PROMISED LAND … TONIGHT is the night that the HOPELESS, EMPTY FEELING of a life gone BAD is EXPUNGED…. THERE’S COLORS ON THE STREET … RED, WHITE AND BLUE … PEOPLE SHUFFLIN’ THEIR FEET … PEOPLE SLEEPIN’ IN THEIR SHOES …KEEP ON ROCKIN’ IN THE FREE WORLD …
THROW IT DOWN!! C’MON, MACCULLOCH, THROW IT DOWN!!!
GOODNESS GRACIOUS, THAT’S A LOOOOOOOONG WAY FROM CALIFORNIA ….AND WITH THAT MUCH TIME, YOUR MIND SETTLES INTO SOME INTERESTING SPACE ..In what ultimately was little more than a BLINK of the EYE, because that’s HOW FAST WE WERE GOING, The Real World kept intruding on the LOVE FARM … The Alabama Trial of the ’63 BIRMINGHAM CHURCH BOMBING is underway, where FOUR INNOCENT GIRLS lost their lives …ON TRIAL, an ex-KLANSMAN …WORD OF THE TROUBLE SPREAD AROUND …ONE DAY A MAN CAME TO MY TOWN … I WAS IN THE KITCHEN WHEN MY PA LET HIM IN … HE SHOOK MY HAND, SAID, “THE KLAN’S YOUR FRIEND” …WHAT COWARDS!! What evil could possibly dream of bombing a CHURCH?!! How CRUEL, how VILE, how utterly NONSENSICAL …We learned our lessons so many years ago, that it’s all right to disagree, just DON’T BE DISAGREEABLE.
Rocky and Bill: "Throw it down! Throw it down! C'mon R.J., throw it down!"
We can ONLY HOPE that JUSTICE will PREVAIL and bring CLOSURE to this most TRAGIC of episodes in this COUNTRY’S SAD history of race relations … The struggle for truth and justice, the crusade for racial equality has never been captured better than in DAVID HALBERSTAM’S “The Children” -- maybe the MOST IMPORTANT book I’ve ever read … SOUTHERN MAN BETTER KEEP YOUR HEAD … DON’T FORGET WHAT YOUR GOOD BOOK SAID … SOUTHERN CHANGE GONNA COME AT LAST … NOW YOUR CROSSES ARE BURNING FAST …SOUTHERN MAN… We’re tired of people running away from their responsibilities … WHAT’S UP with Stanley Works? What we need more than ever now is LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE … Fortunately, we’re getting A CLASSIC EXAMPLE of that from Jimmy Carter, standing alone on the bright shiny Caribbean beaches as a BEACON, as a VOICE OF REASON, INTELLIGENCE, COMPASSION and REALITY. The only voice heard above the din of SELFISHNESS, GREED, and PERSONAL AGENDAS.
THROW IT DOWN!! C’MON, R.J., THROW IT DOWN!!
We witnessed a NEW BEGINNING at the Meadowlands tonight… Rising above life’s battles, was a team, a leader, a coach, an organization, a family. A squad able to fulfill it’s dreams … HE FOUND A PROMOTER WHO NEARLY FELL OFF THE FLOOR … HE SAID I NEVER ENGAGED IN THIS KIND OF THING BEFORE … BUT YES I THINK IT CAN BE EASILY DONE … WE’LL JUST PUT SOME BLEACHERS OUT IN THE SUN AND HAVE IT OUT ON HIGHWAY 61 … Don’t ever tell Jason Kidd that this is Highway 3W.
THROW IT DOWN!! THROW IT DOWN!!!
YOU USED TO BE SO AMUSED … AT NAPOLEAN IN RAGS AND THE LANGUAGE THAT HE USED … GO TO HIM NOW … HE CALLS YOU … YOU CAN’T REFUSE … WHEN YOU GOT NOTHING … YOU GOT NOTHING TO LOSE … YOU’RE INVISIBLE NOW … YOU GOT NO SECRETS TO CONCEAL
So much of the BIRTH of this NETS team comes out of the HORRORS of the 9-11. Last fall, we all had to STEP BACK and ASK, WHAT IS REAL? What are OUR LIVES all about? When those TOWERS came tumbling down, everything seemed so TRIVIAL…“The Fatal Shore: The Epic Tale of Australia’s Founding” provides an incredible offering of LIFE’S GREATEST LESSONS and the chance to start with new beginnings… Part of this story is of CAPTAIN COOK and he how was stuck inside the Great Barrier Reef and couldn’t get out. He and his crew pulled onto LIZARD ISLAND, which, by the way, is at the top of the list of places to visit in Australia… With Coral Reefs, ISLANDS and PRISTINE BEACHES, CAPTAIN COOK had to climb to the top of LIZARD ISLAND to look and see how he could get through the great Barrier Reef. He had to GET back out to the OPEN OCEAN … A river ran through the Reef. Cook set sail for the gap, but right when they arrived at the narrow chute, the wind changed and started to blow the boat on to the Reef, everyone facing certain PERRIL, imminent DEATH…Captain Cook ordered the entire crew off the MOTHER SHIP AND into the long boats WHERE they had TO row and ROW and ROW …. ROW, Jimmy, ROW … to keep their hopes, dreams and lives afloat. For two solid days – 48 hours straight --- it was nothing but ROWING … AND ROWING …AND ROWING. Finally, when the crew is at the point of sheer exhaustion and ready to quit, the winds changed and they were able to skirt through the river …WE’D GO DOWN TO THE RIVER … AND INTO THE RIVER WE’D DIVE …OH, DOWN TO THE RIVER …WE’D RIDE.
THROW IT DOWN!!! THROW IT DOWN, KENYON!! THROW IT DOWN!!!
All of this revival, new beginnings and moving forward in life, has to be BASED ON TRUST. It is the BREAKDOWN of trust that is creating so many problems in our world today. Fortunately, that breakdown is being exposed by the brilliant writers at Tom Payne.com and Paul Krugman of The New York Times.
When we speak of trust, I’m always brought back to John Wooden’s MAXIM; ‘It’s better to trust and be occasionally disappointed, then to mistrust and be forever miserable.’ … YOU WILL START OUT STANDING … PROUD TO STEAL HER ANYTHING SHE SEES … BUT YOU WILL WIND UP PEEKING THROUGH HER KEYHOLE … DOWN UPON YOUR KNEES …
THROW IT DOWN!! THROW IT DOWN!!!
As the journey to Jersey lasted longer than we can possibly stand, my mind could not settle. As we approached the biggest moment in Nets franchise history …THROW IT DOWN, R.J.!! THROW IT DOWN!!!!
I can remember Game 6 of the ’77 NBA Finals. We’re having one last practice before the game and we’re sitting around the floor, stretching. It was incredibly SILENT, QUIET and phenomenally TENSE. I said quietly, ‘Hey, guys. We’ve got a chance to really do something here. LET’S NOT LET THIS SLIP AWAY.’ …… THE POWERS THAT BE LEFT ME HERE TO DO THE THINKING …AND I JUST TURNED TWENTY TWO … I WAS WONDERING WHAT TO DO … AND THE CLOSER THEY CAME THE MORE THOSE FEELINGS GREW
Jason Kidd's wife Joumana joins in the "Love it Live!" fun.
Missed opportunities …THINK OF ME AS ONE YOU’D NEVER FIGURED …WOULD FADE AWAY SO YOUNG … WITH SO MUCH LEFT UNDONE … Oh, so many times that I let it slip away. Those times are NOW the BANE of my existence … THROW IT DOWN!! THROW IT DOWN!!! The chance of really doing something in college basketball. We should have won 'em all. Those four losses still cramp my SOUL. HOW DOES IT FEEL … HOW DOES IT FEEL … TO BE ON YOUR OWN … WITH NO DIRECTION HOME … LIKE A COMPLETE UNKNOWN … LIKE A ROLLING STONE …
THROW IT DOWN!!!
In the early days of the Blazers, there was this little nerdy guy running around with a bag full of these UGLY shoes, who approached me. ‘C’mon, Bill. You have to wear my shoes. I’ll pay you money!” ‘Nah, that’s not what I’m about. I’M A BASKETBALL PLAYER.” “Please. I’ll even give you part ownership of the company. You’re our guy. WE WANT YOU TO WEAR our shoes.” The persistent fellow finally got the hint and HIT THE ROAD. That guy turned out to be Phil Knight.
YOU SAID YOU’D NEVER COMPROMISE …WITH THE MYSTERY TRAMP, BUT NOW YOU REALIZE …HE’S NOT SELLING ANY ALIBIS ... AS YOU STARE INTO THE VACUUM OF HIS EYES …AND ASK HIM DO YOU WANT TO MAKE A DEAL …HOW DOES IT FEEL?
THROW IT DOWN!! THROW IT DOWN!!!!
The crescendo toward the greatness of the championship is right here.... We’ve now come to the point of the NBA’s Final Four … Imagine that, the teams still standing all pass the ball and have come together as true squads …In the end, it’s the team that has the single-best player that wins each game, that will win this championship … It’s either going to be Shaq, Kobe, Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Paul Pierce or Jason Kidd. It’s a simple game but it’s a game that must be played and the real players are the ones who will determine the way the game is played, who will dictate the terms of the conflict. Remember: Players make plays, plays DON’T MAKE players …ONCE UPON A TIME YOU DRESSED SO FINE …YOU THREW THE BUMS A DIME IN YOUR PRIME …DIDN’T YOU … PEOPLE’D CALL …SAY …BEWARE DOLL, YOU’RE BOUND TO FALL …
THROW IT DOWN!! THROW IT DOWN!!!!
Very tense at the Meadowlands tonight … LOOK OUT, MAMA … THERE’S A WHITE BOAT COMIN’ UP THE RIVER … WITH A BIG RED BEACON, AND A FLAG, AND A MAN ON THE RAIL …I THINK YOU’D BETTER CALL JOHN …’CAUSE IT DON’T LOOK LIKE THEY’RE HERE TO DELIVER THE MAIL…
The autograph circle came perilously close to the edge of being out of control … IN THE HEAT OF THE EVENING … WHEN THE DEALIN’ GOT ROUGH … There were so many kids at the arena, all totally unaware of the SAD history of the bedeviled curse …I KNOW THE RENT IS IN ARREARS, THE DOG HAS NOT BEEN FED IN YEARS … IT’S EVEN WORSE THAN IT APPEARS, BUT IT’S ALRIGHT …THROW IT DOWN!! C’MON, THROW IT DOWN!! … NOW THE FIFTH DAUGHTER ON THE 12TH NIGHT … TOLD THE FIRST FATHER THAT THINGS WEREN’T RIGHT …Charlotte played a plausibly live game in the great tradition of Paul Silas. While everyone spent most of the evening scratching their head, trying to understand what the refs were doing, the scene in our section behind the basket was a combination, family picnic, longtime Net suffragettes and the wired new believers.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
|“OK, New Jersey. We’ve seen what you can do, but now that you’ve come this far, ARE YOU JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE? Or, have you FINALLY learned how good we’ve been thinking YOU’VE BEEN ALL ALONG. Remember Captain Jack’s warning – ‘There’s no time to lose.’”
THROW IT DOWN!! C’MON, R.J., THROW IT DOWN!!!!
Enjoying the game with my son, Nate and longtime friend Kevin Frazier, I sat six rows in front of Rocky Balboa, who came dressed in his Nets uniform, parading a four-foot paper-mache doll of Jason Kidd. He’s the artist and puppeteer.
THROW IT DOWN!! THROW IT DOWN, KENYON!!
All game long, from the opening tap, Rocky had SCREAMED at the top of his lungs: THROW IT DOWN!!! THROW IT DOWN, R.J.!! THROW IT DOWN, KENYON!!!!
But it never worked as Charlotte, like so many games throughout this series, very much like San Antonio, controlled the first three and a half quarters. With the long suffering Net fans resolute, that their dreams and hearts would once again be broken, things finally went their way at the end. As Jason Kidd started to eventually wear down the Davis-less Hornets (Did I say something about the refs here??). The place finally hit its expected eruption with the barrage of threes at the end --- KITTLES, VAN HORN, JASON.
I had never seen basketball like this in New Jersey. Twenty thousand fans standing in unison, SCREAMING at the top of their lungs. White noise, but above the din, THROW IT DOWN!! THROW IT DOWN!!! And finally, it was THROW IT DOWN, TODD MacCulloch!! As even Todd was able to make a play --- but never a dunk.
Still above the roar: THROW IT DOWN! THROW IT DOWN!!
FINALLY, in the closing seconds --THROW IT DOWN!! Kenyon Martin ABOVE THE CROWD – THROW IT DOWN!!!!
And the walls, indeed, came TUMBLIN’ DOWN!!
We are in the Conference Finals now. It’s a matchup of history and tradition versus nothing in both conferences. Boston-New Jersey, L.A.-Sacramento. Don’t ever try to sell THAT STORY to the up and coming.
THROW IT DOWN!!
In the end, Rocky got the girl and she’s as fine as anything FINE … What a scene it was, to see them walk off into the night. And who would have thought, as they walked off into the night, that the 20,000 Nets loyalists, -- forgetting about their immediate gratification -- started chanting: ‘We WANT Boston.’ ‘We WANT Boston.’ (I thought Phil Jackson is teaching us all to live in the moment …can’t we even enjoy this for a minute.)
If there’s not a game tonight, does that mean that the day does not exist? At this point, I THINK that’s the case …