Antoine Walker pleaded guilty to felony bad check charges yesterday morning, two years after a criminal complaint alleged that Walker failed to pay back more than $75o,000 worth of debt owed to three casinos.
Under the plea agreement, Employee Number Eight will likely face no jail time. Let’s all Walker Wiggle to that. Nonetheless, Walker’s day in court yesterday was a not-so-fun reminder that there are no four-pointers in signing bad checks. The former NBA All-Star has been put on probation and will have a court order to pay his restitution to the casinos.
In the meantime, Walker will presumably continue his struggling basketball career, making one last attempt to make the NBA. I was fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough, if you prefer) to cover Walker’s D-League game in Springfield last season, and his skills are still easily evident. He’s still a guard in a power forward’s body, capable of running a pick-and-roll, zinging no-look passes right into a teammate’s shooting pocket, drilling a picture-perfect jump hook over a center’s outstretched arms, or running off long strings of made three-pointers.
But like always, he was short of perfect. He thrilled the crowd the day I saw him, made six trifectas, scored 27 points, and even unleashed the Walker Wiggle after a late (and clutch) three-pointer. But the extraneous 30 pounds hanging from his waist operated as a symbolic reminder of why Walker’s NBA career fell short of expectations. He always possessed the skills. He always loved basketball. He always showed a fierce competitive spirit. But there was always something holding him back, and even now, during the final, desperate act of his basketball career, that hasn’t changed.