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 will file daily reports on NBA.com and a special "Where's Walton?" section will launch soon.

MONDAY, APRIL 22: EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY

By Bill Walton
There is no more appropriate, accurate or descriptive word in the world of the traveling man than "red eye”... But then again, we learned years ago from the Hall of Fame drummer of the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart, that “we’ll have plenty of time to sleep when we’re dead”...

Bill and Pacers head coach Isiah Thomas swap stories outside the locker room prior to Game 2.
Aaron Ryan/NBAE


Where's Walton? photo gallery

The tour rolled into JFK this new morning and I truly believe that the ongoing construction project there is the same one that I got hung up in 32 years ago when I first came to this remarkable city as a 17-year-old high school senior on my way to being the first high schooler to represent the USA in the World Championships of Basketball, held that year in Yugoslavia...

A cool, gray day with a light rain could never dampen the pace of this huge sphere of electricity — besides, this drought plaguing the Eastern seaboard is a major reality that has to be addressed immediately; people on the streets were looking to the heavens praying for more and pleading with John Fogerty to stop signing his anthem, “Who’ll Stop the Rain”...

A quick, short nap did wonders for me — I’ve found everything they tell you about the dangers of sleep deprivation is true —then we hit the streets running, if that’s what you can call my gait after 31 operations including two ankle fusions...

The NBA Store on Fifth Avenue was our first stop... There we celebrated the official, East Coast tip off of the Love It Live! Tour with a joyous event hosted by Nets broadcaster Ian Eagle -- who probably wasn’t much of a rebounder in his day...

What a temple “The Store” is: everything anyone could ever need or want in life... It’s probably a good thing that I live so far away, but when I do eventually move to N.Y., I’m living directly above this mecca...

I’m so glad to be back in the N.Y. area, with the free fall that the Knicks went through this year, I was wondering if we’d ever be back... “Thank heavens for the New Jersey Nets” is a phrase that I really never thought I would be repeating as my newest mantra...


Bill and his son, Nate, pause for a moment of silence at the Imagine mosaic in Central Park to remember John Lennon.
John Hareas/NBAE
My son, Nathan, living in N.Y. now, met us at “The Store” and from there we made a brief stop to visit old friends at Steinway Hall and to garner inspiration for the coming rush, then dashed of to pay our respects at Strawberry Fields and the John Lennon Memorial … It’s always such a sad and traumatic experience there; the ultimate tragedy and sacrifice paid by John for being nice to people...

Nathan and I wolfed down a fabulous Italian lunch, then it was game time... I remember Nets games as akin to funerals or visits to the morgue…Was I shocked to find hundreds of fans waiting to meet the players 3 ½ hours prior to the game...

The enthusiastic Nets loyalists who were congregating out in front of Continental Airlines Arena were stunning to me but as great as that scene was outside I was totally unprepared for the wild and crazy atmosphere inside…Who would have ever thought that Nets games would be like this?...

BIG RED'S
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I’ve always enjoyed my trips to New Jersey, particularly the diners and late night jaunts on the Turnpike. But to see the fans' response to the Love It Live! Tour tie-dyed t-shirts was simply overwhelming. Especially the fans of both sexes who wanted to trade shirts with me on the spot. Wow! This is better than I could have ever dreamed.”
Good visits with old friends Richard Jefferson, who is like a son to me, through his long friendship with my third oldest child, Luke, and Isiah Thomas were motivational reunions as the pressure was building towards tip off... Indiana started strong behind Reggie Miller and the budding star Jermaine O’Neal, but you could sense from the way Jason Kidd was rebounding from the outset that momentum was building for New Jersey...

I don’t get to just watch many games as a fan in arenas these days — what with my work schedule — and this was a special treat, really what the whole Love It Live! Tour is all about: the chance to experience the magic, the spectacle and the fans first hand...

I was literally blown away… The place rocked, people dancing to the last row in the balcony, driving their Nets to previously undreamed of levels of performance and commitment... It was eye opening, heartwarming and incredibly inspirational; and they never let up...

Nathan and I staggered out at the end, exhausted, drained but never so satisfied or so proud... When we said good night and good bye -- it’s always so tough with your sons -- we hugged with the realization that our dreams had come true. We got to be a part of something very special...

I’m disappointed that there are only 27 days left.