Boston has an irrational fixation with Antoine Walker. Yes, he had a few nice seasons with the Celtics, but he was also a wild chucker who twice shot under 40% for entire seasons in his prime. He also shot once 25.6% from 3 in his early years as a Celtic. He then became a journeyman who squandered his $100 million fortune… thus epitomizing just about everything that was stereotypically wrong with pro athletes, especially NBA’ers of the 90’s.
But America loves a redemption story. And as much as we can joke about ‘Toine (and I joke about him, a lot), I don’t actively root against the guy. I, like a lot of people, hope he’s learned a lesson. And maybe it’s a lesson he can impart on some younger players… because he’s open to step in to coaching some day.
“I’ll probably want to coach one day,” he said. “I don’t know what level yet. I enjoy being around the game. I love the game of basketball. It definitely will be in sports, in some capacity. Right now it’s hard to say, I’m trying to find my niche. That’s why I want to come out and do these type of things. I also went to the NBA Pre-Draft Camps, talked to some GMs. I’ve just got to figure out what my niche will be, but it definitely will be in the game.”
Again, I can sit here and joke about Antoine teaching kids how to chuck off-balance 3’s and the art of the awkward celebration, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just hope this is the culmination of ‘Toine’s path in life.
Maybe Walker’s struggles can help him teach others how to avoid the same pitfalls. Maybe he can pull together a nice little living as a coach, stay around the game he obviously loves, and teach some kids the reality of being a pro baller.
Most big-time prospects and first-round picks believe their careers will last forever… that they’ll be Steve Nash playing at 39-years-old with the checks still rolling in. But they don’t. And if you live your life like you’re printing money, you’re going to end up with your mug shot plastered on blogs and the punchline of Twitter jokes.
So while it sucks for Antoine that he had to go through it, it would be nice to see him save some kids from repeating his mistakes. And if a program doesn’t want to give him a shot as a coach, the NBA should hire him to give lectures to new draftees. Because Antoine Walker isn’t the first mega-rich athlete to blow everything… and he won’t be the last.