Moe Harkless Bandwagon
Join Date: Apr 2009
Re: 2010-11 NBA D-League Thread
Antoine Walker: A Big Step Towards An NBA Return
December 7, 2010: The 2010-11 season has already seen plenty of big names on NBA D-League teams, but none may be bigger than the Idaho Stampede's newest face, forward Antoine Walker. A three-time NBA All-Star during his career with the Boston Celtics, Walker also won an NBA title as a member of the Miami Heat and was an NCAA champion at the University of Kentucky. The 6-9 Walker has been seeking a return to the NBA since being waived by the Memphis Grizzlies in December of 2008, and will now use the NBA D-League as he seeks his return to an NBA roster. Walker joined the Stampede today and is expected to make his NBA D-League debut on Wednesday when the 0-7 Stampede host the Dakota Wizards in Boise.
"I'm excited for the opportunity to play basketball at a competitive level, and I'm excited that the Stampede are giving me the chance to play," said Walker at a press conference in Boise today. "I love the game, and being out of the game for the past year and a half has been very difficult. I'm getting the chance to do what I love to do everyday, and I want to help the team turn things around and get back to being a competitive playoff team."
First-year Idaho head coach Randy Livingston, no stranger to playing in the NBA himself, is very excited for the Stampede organization to have the chance to add a player as talented as Walker. Idaho was able to acquire Walker by being first in the waiver list to acquire new players, and Livingston feels that playing for the Stampede is a great place for the former NBA All-Star to work his way back into the big time.
"When I got the call from Antoine that he wanted to continue his career in the NBA D-League, myself and the Idaho Stampede welcomed him with open arms," said Livingston. "We want to give him the chance to continue his career and get back to where he belongs. This is a good opportunity for Antoine and a good opportunity for the franchise to come together and win some basketball games and get him back to where he wants to be. We look forward to great things out of him."
The Stampede have not had the best start to the 2010-11 season, but Livingston added that bringing in a player as talented as Walker can only help to add to the win column. The 6-9 forward, one of the most versatile players in the NBA during his prime, can give the Stampede a variety of things that can contribute to winning games. Overall for his NBA career, Walker brings averages of 17.5 points and 7.7 rebounds to the roster. In addition to his basketball talents, Livingston feels that Walker's experience and leadership can also do much to turn the tide for the Stampede.
"Antoine brings leadership, and he's seen it all," said Livingston. "He's multi-talented, he can handle the ball, post up, shoot threes, and just bring that calming presence that we've been missing early on this season. Someone that can calm down our young guys and reel them back in to the point where we can win some games. I think he still a lot to give to the game in terms of playing for his own personal reasons, so I think it's going to be a win-win situation for our team going forward."
After leaving the NBA, Walker has not played organized basketball other than a brief tenure in Puerto Rico earlier this year. He feels that the advanced talent level in the NBA D-League will be a great help in determining if he has what it takes to return to the NBA. The nightly level of talent Walker will be facing is perfectly illustrated among his teammates, as former NBA players Luke Jackson and Salim Stoudamire are also part of the Idaho roster and other veterans like Antonio Daniels, Rashad McCants, and Mario West populate league rosters. The chance to play against young and hungry talent seeking an intitial shot at the NBA will also be beneficial to Walker's goals. "I had opportunities to go overseas, but I turned them down", said Walker. "I think this is the best place to play, I love the competition. There's a lot of young guys that come down here from the NBA, and I think if I have any aspirations to play I need to be competitive with them. This is the perfect stepping stone to see if can still play at the highest level."
When Walker takes the floor at Qwest Arena on Wednesday, it will another step in a long process that he is hoping ends with him ending his NBA career on his own terms. He started his road back to basketball by working out with his former college coach Rick Pitino, and now is ready to take the next step by playing in the NBA D-League. At 34 years old Walker's career may be closer to it's end than it's beginning, but the opportunity to play for the Idaho Stampede in the NBA D-League gives him the chance to end it on a much better note than what many expected.
"I worked out very hard since back in May, I was working out with coach Pitino in Louisville," said Walker. "I might be a little rusty at the beginning, I haven't played competitive basketball in a year and a half. Hopefully it comes back real fast because I want to come in and take off and be able to help this team. I had some personal problems, so I took a little time to kind of gather myself to see what I want to do in life and I want to play competitive basketball. I think being 34, I still can play for a couple of years and I want to continue to live out my dream. I want to leave the game on my own merits. When you leave the game for that amount of time, the doors close fast on you. I want to reopen those doors and hopefully this is a way of doing it."
lets' see how long he lasts down there
and here are this weeks power rankings