Where's Walton? ... Day Eight: Ignoring the Rain to Re-Supply the Bus at Pike Place in Seattle
SATURDAY, APRIL 27: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
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|
Game Day -- when everything is different -- no Radio Sri Lanka today... it's the only thing that can supplant the Love It Live Tour...
Preparation, it's what we live for; the routine, the rituals, making sure you do everything possible to be in the zone... The pregame meal; 4 ½ hours before tipoff. The early morning walks, the yoga, calisthenics, stretching routines, the meditative trances, the music, all designed to create an environment so when that ball is thrown up, the world belongs to you...
Two fans sport the green and gold of the Sonics, while Bill sports the green, gold, red, orange, blue and purple of the Love it Live! tour
Jeff Reinking/NBAE/Getty Images
Downtown Seattle on a gray, cloudy spring day with intermittent rain showers... BUCKETS OF RAIN, BUCKETS OF TEARS, GOT ALL THEM BUCKETS COMIN' OUT OF MY EARS... Always my preferred destination in Seattle is the bustling Pike Place Public Market, where people gather for everything they could possibly need -- the food, the racks of fresh fish, the catch of the day, the vegetables, fruits and fresh cut flowers -- all for sale. The craftsmen, the artisans all displaying their wears. The bustling life of a major metropolitan center all coming together in the beautiful open market overlooking magnificent Puget Sound. The Sound teaming with life, both natural and man made. The flight of the sea birds, the eagles, the orcas, the ferry boats transporting the natives back and forth and the heavily laden freighters taking all of the Love It Live merchandise to points unknown all around the globe.
The bustling life of the Pike Place Public Market, the only place that I've come across that comes even remotely close to duplicating the completeness of the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue in New York. I was able to re-supply here and keep the tour bus rolling on. As I'm reminded of the uniqueness of this scene, I can recall the great opportunity in life that my second son Nathan experienced while living at Princeton. After a year of life in the dorms, he moved straight to downtown Princeton. He lived in the apartment directly above one of New Jersey's finest delicatessens. With all due apologies to Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue, it's a toss-up between the Pike Place Public Market, the NBA Store and Nathan's college apartment for the title of earth's most complete block. Fortunately, they are far enough apart that all bases remain covered and one never feels too far from home...
Bill signs autographs for two more of the SuperSonics faithful at KeyArena.
Jeff Reinking/NBAE/Getty Images
There's a park overlooking Puget Sound at the north end of the Pike Place Public Market. I paced back and forth in anticipation of the game, regularly stopping to absorb the natural magnificence of the view. With irregular stops at the huge totems that the native Americans have carved at the park, to remind us all of the incredible history that the Northwest brings to our heritage. If you position yourself just right, you can see up the Sound, past Whidby Island, through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There on the farthest horizon, you can just get a glimpse of Steve Nash's house in the city of Victoria, British Columbia, on the southeastern corner of Vancouver Island. Little Steve grew up there, four blocks from the ocean, and it was this incredible scene of natural beauty and life that inspired him to become one of the game's top four point guards -- imagine how great his vision would be if he pulled the hair out of his eyes.
The Sonic fans were ready for the continuation of the Love It Live Tour. When they were informed that the big box of the tour T-shirts got lost in the mail and that we only had the small box, the loyalists felt ignored, abandoned and completely left out -- fortunately, they didn't resort to violence. … A beautiful day spent with good friends was ruined by some of the worst basketball I have ever witnessed. The only good thing you can say about today was the privilege and opportunity we all had to pay tribute to the true genius of my NBC colleague, Tom Hammond. He might be the only person on earth that can make what we witnessed today seem even remotely as interesting as watching the relentless growth of the vegetation in this lush Northwest rain forest.
Members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young attended the game and invited us to their concerts – tomorrow night in Tacoma and Monday night in Portland. I had to decline because the Love It Live Tour is relentless and it allows no time for frivolity. … When the game mercifully came to a conclusion, the whole NBC crew eagerly jumped on the Love It Live bus for the three-hour ride down Interstate 5 to Portland.
Bus rides are what team members live for. This is where teams really come together. As a basketball player, I longed for these rides. It's a chance to be with the guys. Life has changed over the years. Now, everybody has their own cell phones, headsets, Blackberrys, two-way pagers, portable DVD players, Walkmans with blockout headsets. In the old days, bus rides were times for bonding. I had some great ones over the years with the Dead. Always a favorite activity on those tours was the Dead parking lot, where all sorts of buses spanned the horizon. Our favorite was the all-white bus painted with big broad letters on the side, WE DO WHAT WE WANT. When those guys were on the road, we knew we were in for a treat. And then Neil Young's bus – Pocahontas – it doesn't get any better than that.
Then there was a time a few years ago when Bob Dylan was playing in San Diego and my kids, who had heard us laugh and joke about all the bus rides over the years, talked me into getting our own magic bus for the concert that day on the beach in Del Mar. It was luxurious but the decision was one of the major mistakes of my life. That's all I will say about that one. …
Years ago, I was working for NBC on the Western Conference Finals between Houston and San Antonio in one of the great showdowns in basketball history featuring Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson. We used to take a motor home bus between those two South Texas towns. Those were the days of Greg Gumbel, Snapper Jones and Hannah was the sideline reporter. Oh, what a time we had, rolling through the flatland, always on our way to another game. … Today, one of our roadies had some Grateful Dead CD's that he popped into the console and it was a battle for control of the volume as we had our production meeting with Laker-Blazer vignettes and graphics, the replay of last year's Kentucky Derby, brilliantly narrated by our fearless leader, Tom Hammond and Jerry on the guitar.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
|“Tony Parker at 19 -- the youngest point guard to ever start in the NBA -- going against one of the legends of his era, Gary Payton, who is playing better than he’s ever played before. Yet Tony Parker torches him. There’s nothing like beating the Big Guys.”|
Our bus tonight is fully supplied with anything a man could ever want. My wife, Lori, is the only woman on the bus. She's having a great time. She's wisely refused to act as the waitress. This is a self-serve operation, everybody helping themselves to the Sushi, the chicken, the sandwiches, the veggie platters and the juice. Somebody needs to quickly take this bus to the shop, though, because there are absolutely no shock absorbers on it. I feel like I'm riding on the roads of Israel. Lori and I went to that Promised Land in the '90s with the NBA for international coaching clinics along with Jack Ramsay, Hubie Brown and Calvin Murphy. We were amazed at the dismal condition of the roads. The Israelis explained to us that the roads were in that state because they regularly drove the tanks up and down the highway. Interstate 5 has either completely fallen apart or we made the wrong turn and we're now on Highway 61. I'm looking to see if they've put some bleachers out in the sun. It feels as if we're driving on four flat tires, two broken axles and our vehicle has been stripped of all its shock absorbers.
We pulled into Portand just at sunset. We stopped at the outskirts of town to get some postcards of the hanging … It really was such a beautiful drive, the last 40 minutes along the mighty Columbia River, even more beautiful if you overlook the mothball Trojan Nuclear Power Plant -- now that was a really good idea. Who has to pay for that mistake?! -- and I was reminded of summer's reading gone by of Stephen Ambrose's “Undaunted Courage,” the story of the Lewis and Clarke Expedition. But the golden sky of the late afternoon buoyed all of our spirits as we pulled into the River City. It was a great way to get us back up after that disgraceful exhibition of what only the players' moms could call professional basketball.
I'm going to bed now, closing up my laptop. As I peer straight out over my keyboard, the fullest moon you've ever seen is sitting right on top of the crest of Mount Hood. You can't imagine a prettier scene. It's so good, they should make a concert poster out of it… As I close my eyes, I will be praying for better weather but more importantly, praying for some real basketball. By the way, the hotel in Seattle -- it was perfect. I guess they knew from the outset something I've learned over the last 12 years, never mess with Lori.