06-13-2006, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Dallas, Texas
Walker - "Who's the supporting cast?"
posted whole article b/c there are no 4's.
Antoine Walker confused on role
Trigger-happy forward must lend more support
Published June 11, 2006
DALLAS · The question was innocuous enough, something about the Heat's "supporting cast" and whether it could take sufficient pressure off the Diesel/Flash glamour combo in these NBA Finals.
Antoine Walker's answer was both instructive and disturbing.
"Who's the supporting cast?" Walker shot back Saturday afternoon at the American Airlines Center. "I'm just a player, man. I ain't no supporting cast. I don't characterize myself as that."
So here we are, 100 games and more than seven months down the path from opening night, and it seems Walker is still stuck back at the start.
Ambivalent about his role.
Uncomfortable as a (distant) third scoring option.
Unwilling to admit his shimmy-shaking days in the spotlight must be safely behind him if this combustible Heat formula is to produce a championship.
For all his surface attempts to accept third-wheel status, Walker sure sounded Saturday like the same guy who was complaining about a reserve role after two exhibition games.
Sure sounded like the troubled soul who needed a pep talk from Shaquille O'Neal just to make it through the regular season under the burden of decreased minutes.
Nice timing, huh?
"I'm not a supporting cast," he added. "I'm Antoine Walker, the basketball player."
He shook his head. His buttons had been pushed.
"We have the most dominant player in the middle and we have a talented 2-guard," he continued. "Of course we're going to run 70 to 80 percent of our plays for those guys. But `supporting cast' to me kind of downgrades players on a team. The words `supporting cast,' I just don't like."
Really rolling now.
"I'm not a supporting nothing," he said. "I'm part of 15-strong. A team."
Yes, but here's the problem with that logic. Only eight guys play for the Heat these days, the other seven reduced to practice fodder.
Of the eight, five seem to realize their primary job is to make things easier for the Diesel/Flash combo. If that means scoring at times, fine, but for the most part it means feeding the two best players on the court and getting the heck out of the way.
That leaves Walker, who still seems stuck between his starring past and his less-essential present.
Did you catch his act in Game 1? On the good side he banged in a couple of 3-pointers that built an 11-point lead early in the second quarter.
One of them came from the shadow of the Finals logo painted at midcourt.
Unfortunately, Walker kept getting left open on the perimeter -- by design, obviously -- and he just kept firing away.
Impervious. Oblivious. Insidious.
"I thought I got great shots," Walker said. "A couple shots went in and out. I got to the basket for a couple shots. The opportunities were there to have a big night."
Too many opportunities, as it turned out. Walker wound up 7 for 19 from the field, his attempts trailing only Dwyane Wade's 25 among all players in Game 1.
Nine of Walker's tries came from beyond the arc. He, like the rest of the supporting cast, never made it to the foul line.
The Diesel? He played only four fewer minutes than Walker and somehow took only 11 shots from the field.
That's why everyone from Heat coach Pat Riley to Wade to the rest of the team's supporting cast spoke often the past two days about getting the big man more "touches."
Walker mentioned that too. Briefly.
For the most part he sounded like an unreformed gunner whose trigger finger remained dangerously itchy.
"As the series goes along, those shots will start to go in," he said. "It's nothing [the Mavericks] did. They're not doing anything. Actually I think they're kind of like leaving me too open sometimes."
"Hopefully they continue to do that," he added.
Oh, don't worry. They will.
Mavericks coach Avery Johnson is no dummy. He has wisely scoped out this Heat team and opted to double down on O'Neal and shade toward Wade whenever possible.
The Mavs played plenty of zone defense in Game 1, and should play more tonight.
That means Walker will almost certainly be left alone on the fringe, clutching the ball, eyeing the rim and dealing with his demons.
To shoot or not to shoot?
To pass or not to pass?
To meld or not to meld?
What's it going to be, 'Toine?
Last edited by kentatm : 06-13-2006 at 10:40 AM.