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 days during NBA Playoffs 2002. Walton, who has been known to "tour" with the Grateful Dead, began his long, strange trip this weekend when he called games in Sacramento and Los Angeles, and then hopped in a jet for a cross-country flight to New York. Walton is filing daily reports on NBA.com and fans can track his journey with the exclusive "Where's Walton?" map on the web site.

THURSDAY, APRIL 25: BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

By Bill Walton

I know for Whoopi Goldberg that it’s all about the color purple, but make no mistake -- today is about the Green...


Bill whips the Boston faithful into a frenzy minutes before Game #2.
John Hareas/NBAE


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It started early with a frenzied pace of radio shows beginning with Radio Uzbekistan. Then when I ordered my customary two large thermoses of hot water, which people just can’t seem to understand that’s what I drink -- room service sent me two large thermoses of hot milk – go figure. You never would have anticipated that in Boston, the race for which hotel would treat us the worst would even come into play...

I heard the wonderful news that today is Meadow Lark Lemon’s 70th birthday. Happy Birthday, big guy. Please pass some of that magic around one more time...

After a feverish morning of trying to organize this crazy, frantic and hectic tour, we got out with the Celtic fans in a town that I once and even now call home. The first stop was Cheers. We tried to get Norm to come to play, but he was already face down at the bar, how sad. I’m jealous. Then, a brisk walk through the Boston Common. The flowering trees, the swan boats, the statues of all of our revolutionary heroes, so inspirational, so prominent in all of our lives, but the frigid wind and the pending rain drove us back indoors...

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We sped quickly over to Cambridge, a town I grew to know, love and live in from the guidance of my good friend David Halberstam. When I first became a Celtic, David Halberstam called and said, ‘Bill, I know that they’re going to want you to live in the suburbs, but Cambridge is for you.’ I can never thank David enough for those words of wisdom...

We stopped at the Harvard Square kiosk to check in on the world news and then plopped down quickly for a few games of speed chess -- I lost every one. My game has become a disgrace to the sport of thinking! Then on to the old house on Avon Hill Street, the house that for me was a mansion on the hill, the house that when the snow came piling down, the police would come by to drive the kids to school and shovel the driveway.

Then we walked around the corner to the neighborhood park, Raymond Park, the place that we all used to play ball, frisbee, kick the soccer ball and just enjoy the peaceful moments of life in a wonderful and welcoming neighborhood. Upon leaving Cambridge on our way back toward the game, we stopped and said a melancholy goodbye to my East Coast hometown. It was one last look at the boathouse and the spires of Harvard on the Charles River and I was reminded of Halberstam’s outstanding book, “The Amateurs,” a fascinating study in the true joy of competition, the search for excellence and the challenges of self motivation...


Sitting on the front steps of the house he lived in when he was a Celtics player, Bill shows his green roots still run deep .
Aaron Ryan/NBAE

We were starving by the time we burst through the customary traffic jam/parking lot on Storrow Drive so we went straight to one of the old haunts, the Union Oyster House. John Ferrari was still behind the bar as he has been for the last 30 years. It was like I hadn’t missed a day. We used to spend hours at John’s horseshoe bar, the same bar that Daniel Webster regularly grazed (the Oyster House having opened its door in 1826), downing the cherrystones, the little necks, the oysters and yes, more than a few beers, but to be on the Love It Live! Tour means that you have to be in championship physical condition. There isn’t any time for distractions that can keep us from our goals here. We thanked John for a much needed and fabulous lunch and then made our way to Fanieul Hall and what timing.

On this date in 1855, the city of Boston named the hall square after Peter Fanieul who donated this historic and magnificent building. On my pilgrimage, I paid homage to Red Auerbach at his statue. I sat down, draped my arm around and thanked him for allowing me to become a Celtic. I then proceeded to get down on my knee because there was water from the early drops of the storm that were tarnishing the pair of Larry’s Bird’s shoes positioned right next to Red. As Larry’s valet, it was my job to make sure that his shoes were always ready...

I can never thank the people of Boston, the Celtics, Red and Larry Bird for their acquiescence to my dreams of joining my boyhood team. The Celtics not only gave me my career back, they gave me my life back as well...

Then, I merged into the flow of the crowd that was surging toward the FleetCenter. I still have trouble calling it that because in my heart and mind, it will always be “The Garden.” The fans, who like me, were all wearing their tennis shoes hoping that Coach Jim O’Brien would put us in for that one rebound to ensure the Celtics victory...

BIG RED'S
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I got to start one time for the Celtics and I was so fired up. I arrived at the game extra early and as I was getting ready, Larry Bird came right up to me and knew immediately what I was thinking. 'Look, just because you’re starting and the Chief is not playing, that doesn’t mean you get to shoot. You go to the weak side and get it off the glass. All of Chief’s shots, those belong to me.'”

The time spent with the Celtics fans on the concourse prior to the game, signing the autographs, giving out the Love It Live! Tour shirts was absolutely a life-changing experience. To say nothing of so many Celtics fans who kept telling me, ‘Bill, send Luke to the Celtics. Luke is a Celtic, get him on our team.’ How proud can a dad be to experience that sort of sentiment, emotion and outpouring of love?...

We finally had to break through from the autograph circle and when I entered the arena bowl to walk down toward my seats, it was amazing: It was like I had never left. It was like Game 6 of the 1986 Finals when the fans smelled the blood of the Houston Rockets. As I made my way down toward the court, the crescendo of the fans as they urged on their beloved Celtics made me almost seven feet tall. I think I could have gotten that one rebound had Coach Jim O’Brien needed it...

So many old friends at the game: Alan Dershowitz, who used to ride the bus with us around New England when we played regular-season games at Hartford and exhibition games all over New England. Alan and I would sit together, discussing the political and legal issues of the day. We’ve remained close friends ever since. He had his 12-year-old daughter with him at the game tonight...

JoJo White, the lead guard of one of the greatest Celtics and NBA teams in history, the team that never receives its due credit or recognition. Those mid-1970 Celtic teams were truly a team for the ages. What a joy it was to spend time with the original Celtic --- Bob Cousy. It made me so proud. Even though I grew up in the heart of Lakers Country in San Diego, I was a Celtic and Bill Russell, Bob Cousy and Red, those are my guys!...


Many Celtics fans still think he can walk on water, but Bill is perfectly happy standing on the banks of the Charles River.
Aaron Ryan/NBAE

I got to sit at the game with my nephew, my older brother Bruce’s son, Kam, who is a second-year student at Harvard. We had a great time sharing his experiences in Boston, which have been much the same as mine were 16 long years ago. Then, a chance for a brief visit with longtime friends, Kevin and Angela Frazier, people who I met, playing and coaching basketball as Phil Jackson’s subsitute coach at the Omega Institute near Woodstock. Kevin’s dedication, admiration and commitment to the spirit and greatness of Bob Dylan has carried me through many, many tough times in my life...

Then the game itself: a fiercely contested tussle filled with so much tension and everyone playing so hard. Philadelphia displayed their championship-level spirit. They were good enough to win most games tonight. The Celtics played tenuously with a six to 10-point lead for major stretches, but you never got the sense that the lead was safe and it looked as if Philadelphia would take this critical Game 2 and gather all of the momentum and quite probably eliminate the Celtics if they were able to get this one. But the Celtics hung on. Kenny Anderson, a beautiful floor game and his head-to-head battle with Allen Iverson was magnificent. Walter McCarty, everywhere at all the right times, a classic Celtic performance for a player who didn’t get many statistical markers. Paul Pierce, who is a very special player, made two huge shots and many free throws down the stretch that turned the game for Boston. In the end it was a sensational evening of memories – new and old – and to see the Boston fans so energized truly made me proud to be once, now and forever a Celtic.

It was wild getting out of there. We couldn’t get our car close enough to the doorway because the legions of Celtics fans were surrounding the FleetCenter, waiting for their heroes to come out for one close bit of personal contact. The rain was pouring down while we had to trek through ankle-deep mud puddles as the Big Dig construction around the FleetCenter continues to cause transportation nightmares...

We finally made it back to the hotel and I didn’t even know what room I was in. I tried three or four different ones, but by the time I eventually made it back to the front desk to ask the clerk for a new key, I discovered that I hadn’t even been on the right floor yet. That’s how wild and crazy it is on the Love It Live Tour these days.

We did make it back to the safety of our hotel in enough time to catch most of Game 2 of Blazers-Lakers. As I close my eyes, knowing full well that I’m on my way tomorrow, I was overcome by the sadness of having to leave my best friends. It was very much like the last day of a Grateful Dead Tour, when you’re driving down the road and you’re all alone once again with everyone going in different directions. To have the rain falling down only made the loneliness worse. Fortunately, I’m on the Love It Live! Tour and there is a new tomorrow.