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!

FRIDAY, APRIL 26: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

By Bill Walton

And I thought Lee Atwater was dead... IDIOT WIND, BLOWING THROUGH THE SMOKE RINGS OF MY MIND...

I finally got to bed last night at 2:30 a.m. after the inspirational and emotional Celtics victory. On this tour, the bus pulls out of the depot very early. I was desperately trying to catch just a few hours of sleep, so I left a 7:15 a.m. wake-up call, which would still be cutting it very close for the trip through the tunnels and on to Logan Airport. The phone exploded at 6:15 a.m. --- a full hour before I was supposed to get the call... IDIOT WIND, IT’S A WONDER THAT THEY STILL KNOW HOW TO BREATHE...


Luke Walton (second from left), Bill's son and a standout for the University of Arizona basketball team, sits in his living room with friends displaying their fever for the Love It Live! Tour.
Courtesy Luke Walton

I thought that the hot milk the previous morning had put Boston unimaginably in the lead for which hotel could possibly treat us the worst. Now, I was fully convinced that the spirit of Lee Atwater is still alive. I thought we won that war?! Think again. That’s a battle that has to be won every day... IDIOT WIND...

The groundswell of interest, enthusiasm and bus riders continues to grow. No where is the surging demand for the shirts and participation in the Love It Live! Tour so evident as the call I received late the other night from my son, Luke – he told me he was at church, where he swears he spends all of his free time at University of Arizona. ‘Dad, I see that you’re out on tour. I’ve got to get on the bus.’ I said, ‘Luke, you’ve got to stay in school and learn from your great teacher, the Hall of Famer, Lute Olson. However, as consolation, Luke, I’ll send you a couple of shirts for you and your friends. Then you’ll have to live the tour vicariously via NBA.com.’...

I finally got on the airplane to Seattle, which is right on the way from Boston. I swear I was surrounded by people who had tuberculosis, yellow fever, typhoid and malaria. I knew that I had hit rock bottom when the pilot announced over the P.A. that we would soon be in Seattle -- six hours and 35 minutes from now...

It’s always weird for me to visit Seattle. Fans here never really liked me; from the days at UCLA when we used to mop up on the Washington Huskies, to my early years with the Blazers and the championship team when we would come up here and wax the Sonics. What really set them over the edge, though, was in the mid-’90s when the Sonics were starting to come back from the depths of mediocrity. I was working then in the NBC studio and as we approached the playoffs in 1994, Seattle had the best record in the Western Conference. I said, just prior to the playoffs, that I didn’t think the Sonics’ record was for real. I said that they were not a good road team and I thought that they would have trouble during the playoffs. That just set the Sonics loyalists off...

NBA STORE

Join the fun with your own "Where's Walton?" Love It Live t-shirt

Shortly after making those comments, I was in Seattle for a local Clippers broadcast back to Los Angeles. The fans totally turned on me and it was as if I was a player again. Eighteen thousand fans chanting in unison at the broadcaster: WALTON SUCKS! WALTON SUCKS! Debris, garbage, soft drinks, beer, heated coins flying through the air. The police had to be called to restore order. Two years later, in the 1996 NBA Finals, I was calling the series with Marv Albert and Matt Guokas between Seattle and Chicago. Seattle fell hopelessly behind 3-0 and I was utterly confused at George Karl’s puzzling decision to guard Michael Jordan with Detlef Schrempf when he had the Defensive Player of the Year, Gary Payton, on his squad. The fans were so incensed at me for reporting that fact that they surrounded the hotel at night and were chanting my name: WALTON, WALTON... IDIOT WIND, THEIR MINDS ARE FILLED WITH BIG IDEAS, IMAGES AND DISTORTED FACTS. IDIOT WIND...

My lovely wife Lori was afraid to peak out from behind the drawn curtains. They have calmed down quite a bit since then as the team fell apart over the last couple of years. Many of those same fans have contacted in that span and said: ‘You know what Bill? You were right!’ But I’ve always felt that it’s the fans who are right and they’re the ones who have given me the greatest life anyone could possibly have. I only ask of them that they come with an open mind because when everybody thinks alike, nobody thinks...

It’s always sad for me when injuries change the course of destiny. As the most injured player in the history of basketball with the endless series of stress fractures, with the 31 operations, I really feel for David Robinson, who didn’t even make the trip to Seattle. David had an epidural very recently and it’s totally unrealistic to expect him to play anytime soon. Anyone who has ever had any back trouble or had to ponder the seriousness of a spinal injury that requires an injection of antiinflammatory medicine directly into the spinal cord can certainly appreciate the wisdom of David Robinson not trying to play here. Simply because when the epidural doesn’t work, the only thing left is to have surgery performed on the spine. We wish David well and we all respect and appreciate his contributions to this game...

BIG RED'S
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’m wondering what the schedule holds because after Sunday’s afternoon ballgame in Portland, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are playing in Tacoma ... and I feel like a hurricane ... long may you run.”

We can only hope that the fans, who always want more, can recognize the millions of hard miles on David’s body and that NBA basketball is the ultimate celebration of health. You have to be able to walk before you can play. Without David, San Antonio becomes just another team. David is an easy target. But when he doesn’t play, San Antonio becomes Minnesota, Seattle, Utah or any number of teams because as great as Tim Duncan is, he’s a forward, not a center. He is out of his element as the Spurs’ big man...

We had NBC production meetings all day in preparation for Saturday’s game and why not? The rain was pouring down all afternoon. Nate McMillan and Gary Payton were terrific. Gary’s attitude transplant led me to vote for him as the NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year this season. The meetings dominated most of the day until I finally settled down to my first quiet evening in what seems like the blur of eternity... IDIOT WIND, I HAVEN’T KNOWN PEACE AND QUIET FOR SO LONG, I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER WHAT IT’S LIKE IDIOT WIND...

I watched the Nets-Pacers game on the tele while researching San Antonio-Seattle. Scratching my head, I pondered what faces the Blazers as we approach Sunday’s climatic showdown, asking myself: ‘What do you do when your archrival is simply the better team?’

The skies opened up, rainbows, white puffy clouds and doves of peace flew through the air. I answered the knock on my hotel room door and there was my beloved wife, Lori, standing angelically in a shaft of light. Framed by Mount Rainer on her left, the Olympic Peninsula and the rain forests on her right, I knew that I had truly achieved Nirvana. As I go to bed tonight, I’m hoping that I have the sense not to leave a wake-up call …. maybe then the hotel will let me sleep past 6 a.m.... IDIOT WIND, BLOWING LIKE A CIRCLE AROUND MY SKULL.