With his announcement to his NBDL teammates last week that he is ending his comeback and retiring, Antoine Walker will bring to a close a career filled with ups and downs. Though he won a championship in Miami and ended up earning over $108 million during his career, his legacy has been tainted by legal troubles and personal bankruptcy that followed his playing days.
It seems that many Celtics fans have blocked out all memories of the pre-Big Three era, and as a result Walker has become an almost mythical figure in Boston. His exploits, both good and bad, have been lost in all of the accolades given to the post-2007 Celtics, which is unfortunate given that Walker’s contributions helped put the franchise back on the map in the first place.
From the start of his NBA career Walker was a difference maker, leading the team in scoring as a rookie. What ensued after that first season was a six year odyssey that saw the Celtics set a franchise record for losses in a season, only a few years later to come within two games of reaching the NBA Finals.
All along the way, Walker (along with Paul Pierce) was the backbone of an otherwise mediocre team. Though he was often criticized for being a selfish player, he often had very few talented players to work with and did what he thought was best to help the team win. While his style of play occasionally angered fans, he delivered in the clutch and was a beloved figure in the city.
While he never got the Celtics further than the Eastern Conference finals, Walker should be remembered as an important part of team history. He had the unique ability to make fans laugh, cry and high-five complete strangers all in one play.
While it is difficult to narrow it down, here are Antoine Walker’s top 10 most enduring moments and accomplishments as a Boston Celtic: