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 again as he "Loves it Live" by traveling to 30 NBA games in 30 nights during NBA Playoffs 2002. Walton, who has been known to "tour" with the Grateful Dead, began his long, strange trip on Saturday when he called the Utah at Sacramento game for NBC. He'll call the Portland at L.A. Lakers game for NBC on Sunday (5:30 p.m. ET) and then embark across the country with stops in New Jersey, Charlotte, Detroit and Boston...all before Friday! Walton will file daily reports on NBA.com and a special "Where's Walton?" section detailing the entire journey will launch early next week.

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SATURDAY, APRIL 20: SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, U.S.A.

And these visions of John Stockton kept me up past the dawn ... and then his own teammate didn’t even give him a chance to finish it off -- How selfish!!!! How crazy !!!! How bizarre!!!!

The playoffs are here and I Love it Live! … A raucous 24 hours in Sacramento all began with the time tested ritual of a jaunt through Capitol Park --resplendent with literally every type of tree and plant species native to our great state of California…From giant redwoods to butia palms; from flowering roses to fruit laden orange trees; from scurrying children to wandering minstrels with guitars and tambourines crying out for relief and shelter from the storm …

Late afternoon meetings with both teams provided many valuable insights, but easily the highlight was Jerry Sloan, Karl Malone and Stockton and the historic rhapsodies about how close they once were and now of their apparently razor thin chances


Bill Walton catches up with his former Blazers coach, Dr. Jack Ramsay, (left) and Kings assistant Pete Carril in Sacramento on the first day of the "Where's Walton?" tour.
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
The new dawn brought streaming streaks of red stretching out from the mountains to the east nestling Lake Tahoe and my dawn walk along the American River Trail drove me to a fever pitch in preparation for the mid-day celebration of life that Kings’ games have become …

That trail, starting at the confluence of the mighty Sacramento and pristine American rivers, with those huge California Oak trees slurping from the banks, the same banks that John Muir used to scale on his walks from San Francisco to his, and our, beloved Sierra Nevada Mountains …

I spoke to John this morning and his sense of relief over the sparing of the Artic Wildlife Refuge was palpable -- although he seemed perplexed that this was even an issue …

And then to the game, three hours before tip-off (as always), but this time re-united with our old team -- Tom Hammond back in the captain’s chair again after Marv’s tragic, devastating and ghastly car accident -- The Reunion Tour was underway . Tom, with his pure genius, wit and wisdom -- to say nothing of his unending patience -- wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to jump right back in to the madness, but he is better than ever and it seemed as if he was never gone … Aaaaahhhh!!!!! The old days, when we were guilty of smiling on cloudy days and having too much fun -- so much so that a stop was put to all of that!!!

But too much of everything -- particularly fun -- is what the Kings are all about …. Fans getting to Arco before they even open the parking lots, not even waiting for the party to begin … Frisbees, picnics, tailgaters, face painting, tie-died shirts, balloons, boom boxes, sun dresses and ladies with flowers in their hair -- all so reminiscent of the old days in the Grateful Dead parking lot

BIG RED'S
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"John Stockton epitomizes what intelligence will do for you … And even though he’s now 40, I don’t think he dyes his hair."
Pregame visits with old friends Jack Ramsay, Pete Carril and Hot Rod Hundley …Checking with all the players, trainers, coaches and reporters …

Then the unique and tremendous scene always present at Kings games: the throngs of fans surging toward the court during the warm up period to get the autographs, pictures and some personal contact with their heroes and idols …

The only thing missing in Sacramento was my good friend Danny Ainge, maybe his wife wouldn’t let him out to play …

The love fest for the home team got started early but was nearly derailed by the determined and resilient Jazz … Sacramento didn’t play very well -- there’s not much worse than the better team playing poorly and still winning -- and both the Kings and I escaped a certain flogging when Scott Padgett inexplicably interfered with his teammate, Stockton’s last second three to tie it -- what was he thinking???!!! Was he thinking at all ???!!! … And for the first time in my 10-year career at NBC, the Kings won a game that I got to call …

I guess it’s not my fault any more …