Rick Carlisle shares story about how Bill Walton secured all-access Grateful Dead passes

Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle took a moment during his pregame press conference ahead of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals to share an amazing story about Bill Walton, who died Monday at 71 years old.

Carlisle and the Basketball Hall of Famer were teammates on the Boston Celtics for two seasons during the 1980s, including the Celtics' 1986 title-winning team.

But Carlisle's story wasn't about the days of yore on the parquet hardwood of the old Boston Garden. His tale included Walton, Walton's beloved Grateful Dead and an unforgettable first date.

"I have him to thank probably for being married to my wife, Donna. Our first date was to a Dead show in Washington, D.C. I called Bill and, this is 1987," Carlisle said. "I said 'Look, I got a date with a girl who I think is pretty cool. I'd love to go to the Dead show ... I don't have any tickets. Can you help?'"

Carlisle recalled that Walton had specific instructions to go to the back door, ask for a certain individual and told him to say, "You're Rick Carlisle from the Boston Celtics," and followed up with a "everything will be just fine." Walton hooked Carlisle up with all-access laminated passes ("one said 'Bill Walton' and one said 'Susie Walton'"). Carlisle wound up meeting the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Mickey Hart later on.

In all, Carlisle has said he's attended 25-30 Grateful Dead shows.

Carlisle also was among a group of Celtics players — which included Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish — who attended a Grateful Dead concert with Walton in 1985.

"It was really great because it’s a cultural experience," Carlisle said. "I had seen them once when I was in college at UVa. But it’s such a different experience going with Bill Walton."

Contributing: Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rick Carlisle shares story about Bill Walton, 1987 Grateful Dead show