In Response to Re: Toineson's Top 20 Remaining FA's
[QUOTE]toineson, I always thought you were joking or being sarcastic about a Walker return. Walker had some skills and some really awful habits too. I wondered sometimes if the coaches ever asked him to cool it with the three pointers and get on the box. Rasheed is frustrating like that too, but in a different way. Rasheed is very skilled around the basket and has good footwork to get off good shots but occasionally takes ill-advised threes. Walker never developed two or three back-to-the-basket basic moves: dives, drops, fade-aways. He was big and fast and could handle the ball but just seemed so lost around the basket for a guy with his other physical gifts and basketball IQ. He was a better interior passer than he was primary interior offensive threat. I used to cringe when he got the ball low. I seem to remember his softie offerings being swatted a lot. Now about the three point shots. I don't think Walker ever moved his game from 2 feet from the rim to 5 feet from the rim to 10 feet, 12, 17, etc. in any rational or helpful way. It seems he showed up 97-98 training camp and annouced he would hereafter be hauling treys whenever it suited him regardless of the offense or his abilities Point is, he never developed a reliable two point shot or free throw, nevermind a three. He doesn't play within himself. I don't think we need a guy like that here to be 14th on the bench. Ask him to get in there and box out and carve out some space in the paint and run some deeks sweet kicks to Ray Ray and pick-n-rolls and you're just as likely to get him playing zero defense and running, if not dribbling, to the opponent's three line and hauling it up there. There is no rhyme or reason to his game. One thing that drove me basically insane when Antoine Walker played for the Celtics is the point guard position basically became irrelevant. Walker forced his team to play 4 on 5 because he handled the ball way too much. I wonder if he's mental? Does he take the antidepressants like Delonte? peace
Posted by shines01[/QUOTE]
Alright for starters, I'm still a little miffed that they removed the entire "BRING BACK TOINE" thread, so forgive me for repeating myself a bit here. Shines01--I know you're just giving your honest feedback, but you also do a pretty good job of summarizing the popular, and negative, narrative on Antoine Walker.
Unfortunately, there tend to be a number of important points missing from write-ups like these. I can never tell if it's just a matter of ignorance or just that people are incapable of giving the guy his due for whatever reason...
1). Toine the tweener.
Obviously Antoine Walker has offended the sensibilities of many fans who are used to seeing a power forward playing the power game on the block....
But for a little context... if you go back and re-watch draft night 1996, Rick Pitino even says: "What people don't realize is that he (Antoine) can play a little power forward as well."
Translation: Pitino was noting that Antoine was really a 3, but also had the versatility to play a little bit at the 4 as well. IMO, Antoine as a 4 was somewhat playing out of position. He was generously listed at 6-9, but the 6-8 you also see listed on places like basketball reference is probably closer to reality. He didn't have the long arms or good hops/great athleticism to compensate for this height disadvantage either. What he did have though was the strong ball-handling and playmaking skills and the ability to "switch gears" and to throw the opposition off since it was difficult to predict sometimes what he would do, keeping them guessing. And he could use his relative quickness against bigger 4's to his advantage by sometimes playing the "stretch 4" role and by blowing by them so he could avoid getting his shot blocked--it was difficult for him to go straight up. When Pat Riley traded for him in 2005, he described Antoine as being "Magic Johnson with the 3's." Now sure, that's hyperbole flowing at a press conference, and I don't want people calling me out on making a "horrible comparison" in making the case that Antoine Walker was at the same level as Magic ha. I'm just reporting what Riles said. BUT this is instructive because it informs how we SHOULD PERCEIVE a player like Walker. Point forward skills. Amazing versatility, a must for a tweener like Toine. Good passer. Good leadership qualities. Good rebounder. Ability to score in spurts. Now in Boston, Walker did play the 4 since there was a lack of size and personnel, and because of who the coaches were. But in Miami when they won the championship he was primarily playing the 3, really not surprising.
Unfortunately, a lot of people prefer to knock Walker for not being the rugged interior bruiser that they wanted him to be, for not being more like a Kevin Garnett or Rasheed Wallace. Frankly that got pretty old after awhile. Different players with different talents and different games. Could you imagine Rasheed Wallace consistently pulling off the "point forward" role, pushing the ball up the court as Toine does in the following clip at the 0:40 mark?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxdrkty1kmg
I prefer to think about it this way... if only Walker had Lamar Odom's build, a little taller, the arm length, greater athleticism... People sometimes knock Odom for being too passive, not always engaged, not being fired up. Well, another way of saying this is that it's too bad Odom doesn't have Walker's fiery energy. With Odom's build, my personal opinion is that Toine could have gone from a 3 time all-star to a top 5 to 10 player in the NBA. Toine wasn't without his faults but I thought he negotiated the "tweener" hand he was dealt rather well and has had a darn good career thanks to his overall versatility and competitiveness. Players like Brandon Hunter, meanwhile, try to have that interior power game with the 6-7 or 6-8 build and 260 lbs but USUALLY (not always), but usually, don't seem to have much staying power. MAYBE if he would have gained 75 pounds he could have pulled off the Big Baby Davis routine, but then you are throwing away the marvellous gifts that Walker already brought to the table.
2). You say you couldn't stand Walker playing point forward at times, but you also conveniently leave out that the Celtics were never blessed with a top notch point guard. They had Kenny Anderson on the downside of his career, and after Anderson left? Hmmm, an undrafted rookie named J.R. Bremer (memba him??) was forced to start HALF of their games in 02-03, and the guy was out of the NBA within a year later. Walker was the team's best playmaker, was rather good at setting up Paul Pierce, and frankly he was forced into doing a little bit of everything to help the team win... AND also he was comfortable with deferring to the younger Pierce and helping him build up his confidence. And there is NO understating this, the NBA graveyard is littered with tandems that were undermined by underlying jealousy over who was getting the most shots or getting paid the most $$. Big Dog and Ray Allen in Milwaukee, Shaq and Kobe obviously, Garnett and Starbury in MN, we saw with Iverson in the early years whether it was Stackhouse or Hughes or Van Horn that there would be problems. Which is why I don't get a lot of the talk about Walker having a humongous ego (sure he had self-confidence which is an important quality to have), but Pierce had the bigger contract, was getting most of the credit from the fans and the media (which is a travesty in my book) and yet Walker accepted all of this in stride and still went out every night and tried to give his very best. Actually, all I ever seem to hear about are former teammates talking about how great of a leader Walker is, how much they respect him as a person. Most recently it was Wade at the Miami Thrice conference invoking Walker, heck even in the 2005 playoffs the OPPOSITION, Pacers players Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson were sticking up for him. In Atlanta it was Head Coach Mike Woodson talking up the toine's strong leadership qualities (he was even doing it this past year!! Too bad Woodson is gone now and they made the mistake of signing Josh Powell)http://www.nba.com/hawks/news/Antoine_Walker_feature_111604.html“He’s been a true professional about his approach on and off the floor,” said Woodson. “I respect everything about Antoine and what he’s done. But it’s going to take a team effort from everybody. We can’t just rely on Antoine Walker.”
“He comes to work every day, he tries to help the young guys and the young guys feed off of veteran guys like that,” Woodson continued. “He’s played on some good teams. He’s made the playoffs. He’s doing everything that we need Antoine Walker to do. I just hope that what he’s doing will have a nice carryover to the games for some of the young guys to follow.”
Walker has always come to work, as illustrated by his durability throughout his career. Walker has played in all 82 games four seasons, and in 81 games two other times. The most games he’s missed in an 82-game slate are four in 2002-03.
“I’m very proud of that,” said Walker. “I try to go out in the summer and work hard with my trainer and try to get in the best shape possible and try to stay focused. I don’t take too much time off in the summer.”
(Heh, funny enough in 2005, after Walker left Atlanta they only won 2 more games in the final 2 months, while the Celtics became sleeper championship contenders with Walker).
But of course the Boston Globe preferred to call Antoine Walker a "punk", choosing to tear the guy down. NEWSFLASH: The Celtics were bad BEFORE Walker got to Boston, and victory is in the struggle as it should be.... Walker and Pierce plus a talent starved roster built things back up, got us to our first conf finals in 14 years, and after Walker was traded WE WERE AWFUL AGAIN (the only bright spot came when Walker returned obviously). IN 06-07, yes we had injuries but we had more than enough talent there imo to avoid going 24-58!! So yes folks, a little perspective would be helpful instead of just crapping all over Antoine and calling him "mental."
3). You seem to be criticizing Antoine's mid-range game, but you could just as easily substitute Antoine's name for many, many players in this day and age, who DON'T have Antoine's versatility. And.... Careful there, you unwittingly give ammunition to Lakers fans when you talk up the mid-range game and how a lot of players are lacking here. The dirty little secret in the Kobe vs Lebron debate which is usually not mentioned... last season, even with a mangled pinkie and broken index finger on his shooting hand, Kobe shot 49% from 10 to 15 feet, while Lebronze shot 32%. Just sayin...
4). Shot selection, 3's, who the coach was, etc.... Indiana's head coach is currently Jim O'Brien (Boston Coach from 2001-2004).... Anyone else notice that Indiana's Danny Granger, who plays both PF and SF, attempted a league high over 7 threes a game this past season? That Troy Murphy DOUBLED his per game average in 3's attempted as a member of Jim O'Brien's Pacers? Sound familiar?
Hate to break it to you people who love to rip on Antoine for shooting so many threes, but this was the coach's preference, and it still is O'Brien's preference. The problem is that many people simply ignore this fact (or aren't even aware of it). You present it as black and white, solely focusing on Antoine's poor shot selection, but that is not even close to being the full story. And conveniently, you leave out that Pierce was also jacking up cringe-worthy shots. To repeat: Both Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce had an effective field goal % of 45% in 2002-03, BOTH WERE GUNNERS. That was the game plan. There wasn't much talent around them, so the gameplan was to get up the most shots and focus in on D. It wasn't always pretty, but it got respectable results all things considered. And when O'Brien wasn't his coach, Walker's 3 point attempts obv dropped considerably. Sounds to me like people are knocking Antoine Walker for doing what he was told.
5). The mere fact that you thought I was joking in my support of a Toine return basically backs up my point about how so much of the Antoine Walker discussion is mired in falsehoods and unfair perceptions. I hypothesized in the thread that was taken down about how Walker's image and reputation would have been so much better had it not been for the likes of Bob "punk" Ryan or Peter May, or the weight of the awesome Boston legacy and history. Bill Simmons summed it up perfectly: "Most fans (in other cities) would have loved him (Walker), but we tolerated him."
I wonder if he's mental?
Well, he's not perfect! He's human like the rest of us.
My goodness, I can even remember an article by Peter May in 2001. Walker was having a brilliant year, posting averages of over 23 points, 9 rebounds and roughly 5.5 assists... and May even concedes that he should have been an all-star compared to some of the jokers that got in, but he surmises that the reason for his absence was because of his "body language" and because of the false perception that he was the reason for Rick Pitino's resignation, so he was a "coach killer." UHHHH. So ridiculous. Well maybe if he wasn't branded a "punk", language that is completely inflammatory and inexcusable by the way, by the local media, and MAYBE if the fans weren't apt to BOO him mercilessly, just shameful.... then MAYBE the NATIONAL media and perception would have been much more favorable. No one person is without blame in how they are perceived, but let's be honest for a second... the media does plenty to drum up controversy and to make scapegoats out of people who don't deserve to be. And the habit sadly persisted even after Toine left Boston... the best Walker can do is to not get criticized, b/c you will be hard pressed to see people give him credit for ANYTHING. So when he was second in scoring in the 2006 finals for the CHAMPIONSHIP team... Oh you won't hear that mentioned hardly at all. You won't hear about his heroics in round 2 vs the Nets. If this had been a part of the popular narrative, you wouldn't see people like MichBelgium talking about how he was "done" already in Miami.
Perception vs reality. Oh we could easly paint a negative portrait of ANYONE, including a guy like Robert Horry, how he was a PUNK in his first few seasons... Oh look at him, he threw a towel at his coach!! He's mental!! Look at his out of control ego! IMAGINE IF ANTOINE WALKER HAD THROWN A TOWEL AT HIS COACH. Not a team player!! And look, Horry is 6-10 and camps out on the perimeter too often, even though he had 4 consecutive seasons in which he shot under 33% from 3's!! Doesn't have the strong inside game, is an inferior rebounder to Antoine Walker, inferior ball handler and passer, he's a bit lankier so he gets the edge on blocks but that's about it. But the guy has a few big shots in the playoffs and iconic moments, and some people now actually laud the guy as Hall of Fame material. The guy never even averaged over 12 points per game, and never played in a Obie's 3 pointer system that probably hurt Antoine's overall career 3 point efficiency (notice how Toine with a Shaq past his prime in 05-06 actually had a HIGHER 3 point percentage--35.8%-- than 5 out of Horry's 7 seasons with the Lakers when he played with Shaq at his zenith).
Yet Horry played til he was 37. He was "Big Shot Bob" don't you know!! Heck of a guy! Well, Toine may not have as many iconic playoff moments, but he's had plenty of clutch playoff performances even if people choose to dismiss them or simply weren't paying close enough attention. And other than maybe David Wesley, good luck finding a SINGLE former teammate that would knock him as a person. Yet people believe that to suggest an in shape Toine at 33 going on 34 contributing on a playoff team, is a joke? Yeah, something tells me that the name "Antoine Walker" conjures up way too many negative connotations (most of which are blatant b.s. in my book) that render most people incapable of having a reasonable discussion about the guy. toineson, I always thought you were joking or being sarcastic about a Walker return.
Give me a break! Are you the one that's joking? http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=17026
Hoopsworld just listed Antoine on this list of remaining free agents, and while there are a lot of names here, this list is still by no means exhaustive. Are they joking about Antoine as well?