Antoine Walker’s name rings bells like Sunday at 12 o’clock amongst Boston Celtics fan.
But why isn’t his jersey retired?
“I think anything to do dealing with Celtics basketball right now it’s unfortunate and I’m going to be honest,” Walker told me on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show.
“The organization and the team treats me really well. When I’m in town and if I ask for anything, they make me feel that I’m part of the organization. But I think me and Danny Ainge had too many spats. And I believe that Danny doesn’t… I don’t think Danny wants to be a part of that because I’m not one of ‘his guys’ if that makes sense. And no offense. I hear that they are going to retire Kevin Garnett’s jersey. Kevin won a championship, but I don’t [think] people think of Kevin as Boston and that’s no offense there. When you think of Kevin, you think of Minnesota. He played great in Boston. I’m never taking anything away from Kevin; that’s my boy. But you don’t think about him being in the rafters in Boston.”
Boston’s sixth overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft out of the University of Kentucky, Walker was a three-time All-Star and a member of the NBA’s All-Rookie team in 1997.
Walker’s talent really shined in the eyes of many when the Celtics paired him with Paul Pierce.
The duo of Pierce and Walker blossomed during the 2001-02 season when the Jim O’Brien team boasted a 49-33 record and made their first NBA Playoffs appearance in seven years. Walker’s stat sheet was amazing 22.0 points and 5 assists per contest.
The Celtics made it all the way to the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals, but would eventually lose in six games to a talented New Jersey Nets team that was guided by Byron Scott and featured Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Keith Van Horn and Richard Jefferson.
Walker still thinks the Danny Ainge part is a big poker chip.
“I think that Danny is making sure that he takes care of his guys and I was never one of his guys,” Walker told Heavy Live With Scoop B.
“We had public arguments that were well documented, we’ve had war of words; I’ve went back there twice and I’ve got my opinion and he’s got his opinion and up until Paul’s retirement, we put Paul’s jersey in the rafters I haven’t seen Danny or spoke to Danny. It was the first time we even said ‘hi’ to each other. And for whatever reason I wasn’t a guy he liked and he did what he did, and I’m more mature for that now. I think I really don’t have a lot to do with Boston Celtic basketball is because of that. I think he wants to make sure – and I think that the organization and owners try to keep that separate. It’s Danny’s world right now. He’s the GM, he’s the Head of Basketball Operations. So I understand it and you know, I don’t think he wants that… me in his background.”
Walker spent time with the Celics from 1996-2003. ‘Toine was traded to the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks before finding his way back to the Celtics in 2005. When it comes to his relationship with the Celtics, Walker still has loved for that city. “Boston is my second home,” he told Heavy Live With Scoop B.
“And that’s from the organization’s standpoint by the way they have treated me and the way I get treated when come back to the city. I always say that when I go back, the fans always make me feel great and I’m just talking about randomly being out in public; whether I’m going to the airport or at a restaurant…whatever it is, when I go back to Boston, I feel like it’s my second home and I always tell people that. I have nothing but great things to say and it’s unfortunate but people got to understand that it took me a while to realize why I wasn’t back at Boston in some capacity, so I get it. That’s why I’m not back and I understand that I’m not one of ‘Danny’s guys’ so he’s going to make sure that he takes care of ‘his guys.”