I will now discuss Antoine Walker, again, for the ten millionth time.
You’re probably annoyed with my Antoine obsession, but Employee Number Eight was one of my heroes growing up. No, seriously. He was. I actually used the Walker Wiggle in 5th grade CYO basketball games. Fortunately, I didn’t also fall in love with launching miserable three-pointers.
‘Toine makes his D-League debut tonight, which is odd mostly because of his swift fall from grace. Only 34, Walker is at an age when most NBA All-Stars, with eroding but still-passable skills, remain in the NBA. Instead, Walker (if I’m not mistaken) will become the first former All-Star to play in the D-League. He’s doing it because he yearns to return to the NBA — maybe because he loves and misses the game, maybe because he desperately needs a fat paycheck, and probably for a mixture of both those reasons.
The fall from NBA champion to laughingstock took only a couple years, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss. Rather, I want to harp on something far more positive. Whatever the reason for this comeback happens to be, ‘Toine’s going about it the right way.
He spent the summer working out with college coach Rick Pitino. He took a job in the D-League, where NBA scouts will be watching, rather than overseas, where they might not. He knows this comeback isn’t going to be easy, and he knows NBA teams aren’t going to come calling after a week or two. (NBA Fanhouse)
“I’m here to play. I came with five or six bags, so I’m here to play,” Walker said. “I don’t put any sort of expectations on me. I think if I can come out and play and help the team win, I think people will see what I’m worth. I know it’s going to be hard and I know it’s not going to happen overnight so I don’t want to put that type of pressure on myself. I want to come play basketball and let my play speak for itself.”
Pride? There’s no room for any. If he intends to return to the NBA, which he does, Walker can’t let himself worry about shame. He can’t worry that he has intentionally chosen to put himself through the same long bus rides, meager food spreads, and generally poor accomodationswith which the New Jersey Nets punished Terrence Williams. Antoine Walker isn’t an NBA All-Star anymore. He isn’t even an NBA player. Rather, he’s like all his Idaho Stampede teammates — just trying to impress the right person, just trying to do whatever it takes to land an NBA job.
Walker seems to understand how he’ll impress NBA GMs: by helping his team win. GMs don’t want to see Walker firing three-pointers at will, or trying to invent the four-pointer, or even scoring 25 points per game. They want to see how he’ll fit on an NBA roster.
Walker was asked what wisdom he can impart on his teammates, and he responded in part, “One thing I learned in the NBA is that if you win, everybody reaps the rewards of winning so that’s one thing that I can tell the guys: ‘Let’s win every night and we’ll all reap the benefits of it with opportunities outside of the D-League because people like winners.’
“I think that’s one thing I can share,” Walker told Ridiculous Upside.
Play to win. That’s all Walker has to do. Prove he can fit in on the next level, rather than dominate a lower level. Do that, and ‘Toine might get his shot at another NBA contract after all.
Even if he doesn’t, he can be proud about his comeback attempt. He’s approaching it the right way.
P.S. — If you want current Celtics news rather than another Antoine chat, a Turkish GM claims Shaq is headed to Turkey… next year!