As the regular season of the NBA Developmental League came to a close last night, so did the basketball career of former NBA Champion Antoine Walker.
According to FoxSports.com, after his Idaho Stampede came away with a victory in their season finale, the 35-year-old forward disclosed to his teammates his intentions to officially call it quits. In his final professional game, Walker posted six points and four assists in 20 minutes of action.
Plagued by weight issues and legal troubles after making his final NBA appearance in 2008, the former star announced a comeback effort in May 2010. After months of preparation, he signed with the Stampede on December 7. In two seasons with the developmental team, the twelve-year NBA veteran averaged nearly 13 points, six rebounds and three assists in a total of 87 games.
Over his NBA career, the big man appeared in three All-Star Games and put up a total of 15,647 points and close to 5,000 rebounds in 893 games with five different teams. Best known as a member of the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, he won an NBA Championship with the latter in 2006. Walker is also a former college stand-out, starting for the 1996 NCAA National Champion Kentucky Wildcats
As aforementioned, his career accolades have been overshadowed by a very-public bankruptcy case, gambling debts and repeated concerns in respect to his motivation. Such complications ultimately halted his admirable, yet unsuccessful campaign to make a return to the NBA.
While the Idaho Stampede has confirmed his locker room announcement, Walker is expected to make a formal statement in the next few days.
Despite his obvious issues on and off the court, Walker, the sixth overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, should be remembered for his impressive skill set, pairing a superb post game with long-range scoring ability, and the previously-noted accomplishments. While many analysts may argue he failed to achieve the long-term success of which he was most certainly capable, Walker is unarguably an All-Star and a Champion.
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