Antoine Walker was one of the highlights of the Celtics "Dark Ages" between Larry Bird’s retirement in 1992 and the acquisitions of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in 2007. Playing parts of eight seasons in Boston (1997-2003, 2005), he teamed up with Paul Pierce to create one of the best 1-2 scoring punches in the NBA in the early 2000s.
Since being cut from the Memphis Grizzles in December 2008, Walker’s life has been a roller coaster. Through gambling and bad investments, Walker lost most of his fortune and was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2010.
The three-time All-Star has been working on getting back on his feet in recent years, and sat down with Gary Tanguay for an exclusive interview.
“I’m surviving,” said Walker, 37, who is no longer in bankruptcy. “I’m alive and well and healthy, and ready for the second challenge of my life.”
In a nearly 15-minute interview, Walker touched upon many topics, including memories of Boston and playing for the Celtics, as well as his take on the current core of Celtics.
Here are some quotables from the interview:
On being traded to the Dallas Mavericks before the start of the 2003-2004 season: “I cried when I left [Boston]. I felt disappointed, I felt we were putting together a championship team.”
On Paul Pierce being traded by the Celtics: “I didn’t have a chance to speak to Paul [Pierce] but I thought the Celtics should’ve put him away like Reggie Miller [with the Pacers]. He should’ve been the one guy that you left on the team and let him play with the young guys.”
On Brad Stevens coaching in the NBA: “You have to be patient. I think if you look at Rick Pitino [who coached Walker at Kentucky and in Boston] and that era, he traded like thirty guys. He’d sign guys and trade them. His patience level was so low. You have to be patient and you have to build something.”
On Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo: “I think he’s a top-five point guard. I don’t think you’re going to get a better pass-distributing point guard and a defender.”
On tanking for a lottery pick: “I would go to the lottery because the draft is so strong this year. I think this is a great opportunity this year with the draft being as good as it is.”
On C's first-round pick Kelly Olynyk: “I got the chance to see him play in three Summer League games. I like that he’s able to step out and shoot the basketball. He’s a pick-and-pop guy. He’s a guy that’s got range, which is very unique.”
On Celtics small forward Jeff Green, who wears Walker’s No. 8: “He’s very versatile, he’s athletic, he can shoot the three. Very high-flying. He’s got numerous dunks on people this year.”