Friday, 14 November 2014
ANTOINE WALKER Feature-THE WALK OF FAME
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Shake, shake, shake! From the nosebleeds to the foundations it seems like the whole arena is shaking. It's never been this loud and proud in Boston since the French Lick. The Gardens never bloomed this beautiful since a Bird flew through the trees. Now they do say things come in threes. That was Larry's legend, but this was a new day for O'Brien...and we're talking about Jim too. The new millenium was his generation. This was before Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and even Paul Pierce. Shaking more than the building or the foundation of fans bumper to bumper is the man who shook every defender to get his basket woven onto the Jumbotron. As the lips on everyone in attendance reads his name like the box-score, the man who has just seemingly raised the Holy Ghost, shakes wildly and uncontrollably like he is coming out of an exorcism. Waving his arms around rigidly and then wildly, with purpose, whilst making noise you would think this man was conducting the craziest orchestra. You've seen the Google image. 'Shimmy, Shimmy Ya' by the late, great Ol Dirty Bastard sounds like its playing. You've seen the Youtube video and ooh baby does he like it raw. Now why is he shaking that shimmy like that? It's just one play. One score...right? Wrong! Lets swiftly shake it off like Mariah's emancipation, because this is Antoine Walker we are talking about here!
Shake, shake, shake! Shimmy, shimmy, shimmy! Then as quickly as all the big numbers racked up, they did the same...but in the opposite direction. The ball started to fall the other way. It finally dropped. Everyone calling his name began calling it even more, but in a whole different way. Business partners, lawyers. Banks, debt collectors. Friends, hanger oners. Two cruel and evil robberies at gunpoint. More and more. $100 here. $1000 there. A few dollars more. Then a whole bunch of millions. All Antoine Walker's money began to shake and shimmy away like the remaining years of his career. All $110 of it. That's $110 million. Who wants to no longer be a millionaire? Its the reality show no celebrity wants to be a contestant of. But it happened to be a former NBA All-Stars troubled twist of fate. From balling to bankruptcy, it all shimmied away to zero like a game clock for 'Toine as his dollars and cents didn't beat the buzzer of the red. More misguided than brick missing the point and the payment, Walker now wants to make sure no other young athlete or man follows in the footsteps of his ledgers. With his new T.V. special 'Gone In An Instant', Antoine is set to document that in a tell-all tale that will go for 'Broke' more than a renowned and acclaimed ESPN special. Its time for the young blood to listen up to an O.G. veteran who is putting all the blame and responsibility on himself. So in this age of people finger pointing to feel better about themselves, from flicking through magazines to swiping through social media, its time to give a hand to a man that's holding up the mirror to himself. In reflection using his own problems of the past to give us a more fortunate future. In an instant replay, showing us how quickly everything can be gone, this is one recap that highlights something we all need to see again. As we look into the life of a man that could have retired into reclusion but instead decided to return to the spotlight to shed some real light. Because after anyone's time in the sun, the fall must come.
But boy is this guy getting back up! He's from Chicago. That's what people from this town do, no matter what winds of change come. Just ask Derrick Rose. Or Scoop Jackson for that matter who in a two-part, ESPN interview with Antoine helped coin his money troubles with the phrase, "loyal to a fault". Which describes a man who helped out friends, loaned them money and treated them to his All-Star lavish life. The kind of friends that sadly and all too truly are no longer around. But you can file those yes men in the same social media category as the finger pointers. Thumbs up to that. At least this humbled hero knows when to give back and a different way and promote a business education instead of one just for the entertainment industry. Climbing back up to the top, this is a man who made it from nothing before. The Big Blue Nation know that. They know a man that was drafted number 6 in 1996, the same year he led his team to a NCAA championship is made of stronger stuff. A Kentucky Wildcat alumni who can claw away at any problem in his prolific but perplexed path. A man that was even prepared to take the road less travelled, part time with the Idaho Stampede in the NBDL to continue his basketball journey. To those too that argue that this amazing All-Star should not just be defined by his classic Celtic, court crusade but his troubled stints in Memphis and Minnesota too, need to realize that his financial loss isn't the only content of his character. Not compared to the profits he made from the human nature of a lesson well learned and to others earned. Walker's money problems talk, but his inspiration sings. Kind of from the same song-sheet as his nice sounding career. An earful of swishes and shimmys. A man who is taking the owness on himself of owing everybody what he can afford in terms of an explanation of truth and wisdom. His life is far from just another cautionary tale but young stars in sports should certainly heed his warning.
Antoine Walker's basketball career can be one young ballers can look up to as well. A three time All-Star and NBA champion. A college one too. After earning his claws as a Wildcat in Kentucky when he could barely grew whiskers, this young man became a proud part of Big Blue Nation. Especially behind his streak of big threes and plays like fellow alumnus and future Boston Celtic teammate Walt McCarty. It was these big type of plays from a marquee player of sorts that got Red Auerbach's Celtics interested enough to hand young 'Toine a draft cap that six other teams hadn't in arguably the greatest class ever of '96. The Boston Celtics, the most storied team in National Basketball Association history where looking for their next legacy of legend, after the Bill Russell and then the Larry Bird one dominated the decades of the last century. Still defined and reeling from the Len Bias and Reggie Lewis tragedies finding this number 8, Walker was a wonder. Quickly becoming a 20 and 10 threat and hitting career highs of 49, this kid wasn't just smooth on the inside. He could also handle the rock from downtown Boston. Lethal from three when his shimmy was streaking and shaking. "Because there's no fours", he once classically responded when asked why he shot so many threes. The Celtics defined the best part of this mans career and this Boston green legend defined their own resurgence. Way before Paul Pierce became the truth and taught LeBron how to make a big three before taking the C's back to the rafters of banners where they belong. When Pierce joined Walker they where quite simply the best duo in the L not called Shaq and Kobe, but like the death of a dynasty it should have lasted longer. Even when Walker returned to the Garden, wearing the double eight, after stints in a loaded Dallas Maverick ballclub and the ATL Hawks. Still when he took a dynamic, off the bench, veteran duo with former Seattle Supersonic Gary Payton to South Beach, he helped another in Shaq and D-Wade give Miami a championship. An elusive ring he deserved with all his clutch shimmy contributions. The image of him shimmying, whilst lying on the floor after a big play and foul will forever be etched in Miami Heat fans and his fondest memories. It lasts longer than the valiant stints from Minnesota to Puerto Rico and Memphis to the D-League for a man who just wanted to keep playing the game he loved. It wasn't all about the money and that's not what people should remember him for now, although in order to help others in his debt he is not shying away from this accountable problem. Still in decades time, the name Antoine Walker will be remembered for being one of the best players of his generation. The shimmy will still shimmy. Shake, shake, shake!