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David Aldridge

Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker was last in an NBA camp in 2008 as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Walker hopes next NBA job gives him chance to teach others


Posted Sep 29 2010 8:48AM

CHICAGO -- I have been warned off of this story.

I will damage my credibility, a coach tells me, if I write a story painting Antoine Walker in a sympathetic light. He was a bad guy in Boston, the coach says of the 34-year-old Walker, and a bad guy in Miami, and a bad guy in Memphis, and he's just desperate and broke now, looking for a last payday.

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But my goal, as training camps begin leaguewide this week, is not to make you like or feel sorry for Walker, but just to tell you that he's looking for a job.

He's been out of the league since reaching a settlement with the Grizzlies in 2008, and last spring, he ballooned to almost 300 pounds. He's lost 35 pounds in the last six months, working out both at the University of Louisville and at Tim Grover's Attack Athletics in Chicago. Whether you believe he's trying to come back because he needs to make money to pay the still-numerous people he owes -- having lost almost all of the more than $100 million in salary he earned during his career -- or because, as he says, he didn't leave the game on his own merit, I'll leave up to you.

Antoine Walker
In his post-NBA days, Antoine Walker ballooned to nearly 300 pounds.
Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Walker says the bulk of his financial problems stemmed from a "terrible decision" he made investing money in Chicago real estate as the recession took hold, and that he wasn't aware of the day-to-day operations of the apartments he owned. The bottom line, though, is that the buildings fell into acute disrepair, to the point where there was sewage flowing through one apartment. The word "slumlord" was tossed around.

But Walker also blew millions of dollars living it up in Miami, Las Vegas and the Bahamas, rolling thick with an entourage of eight to 10 hangers-on at a time. He paid for their plane tickets, their hotel rooms, their food. He bought several homes and cars. And he flashed a lot of bling.

Walker also lost millions more at the gaming tables in Vegas casinos, to the point where three casinos sued him not paying more than $1 million in gambling debts -- techincally, under Nevada law, passing bad checks. He agreed to a repayment plan with the casinos, but has made such little progress on it that he was ordered last June by a Nevada judge to face trial on felony charges of writing bad checks. The trial is scheduled to start in November. One of his homes has been foreclosed. He has not made much progress toward paying a settlement of a case with his former agent, Mark Bartlestein. The list of people that Walker owes money to got so long that he filed for bankruptcy protection last May to, as he puts it, "just start life over."

Meanwhile, he waits for a call from an NBA team. And despite working out recently with Charlotte, there are, currently, no takers.

"I'm not pointing the finger at nobody," Walker said last week at the Attack gym. "Nobody did anything to me. Nobody pointed a gun to my head. Nobody told me to invest my money. Nobody told me to gamble. It's totally me. And I make mistakes, just like other people make mistakes. So it's not the fact of that. I think people have got to understand that we all live and learn, and I have to live and learn. One thing that I do have is my health. My family's very supportive of me. I just try to make sure that I make right decisions now. I can't live in the past.

"I've had my moments where I've slapped myself around a few times, and be like, you know, you've made dumb mistakes. But at the same time, my mom raised me right. I have a lot of pride. I feel like I have two kids to live for. I think I still have to be a good role model and example for them, and just show them how to get through trials and tribulations in life."

He says he's not broke.

"The obvious, one, I'm living, so I'm not broke," he said. "That's not the case of being broke. Do I have $100 million? No, of course not. I'm going to lose a lot throughout this bankruptcy, so that's not the case. But I think anybody that knows me personally knows I love the game, knows I love to play. If that's not enough, me loving the game, and my dedication to the game is not enough, then I'm sorry for people who believe that. You can't make everybody happy. All I can go is go out there and do that. It's just like if I go work a 9-to-5 job. I still gotta provide for my family, myself. I'm going to have to do something. So why not do the thing I love to do, and that's play basketball -- which I feel like I'm very skilled at and I still have the ability to do at a high level."

When he asked his former college coach, Rick Pitino, to help him get back in shape last April, Walker was 296 pounds. Pitino had him come to Louisville, where he stayed three months and got down to 265 pounds through twice-daily workouts, by not eating late and by staying away from McDonald's. When he got back to his hometown this summer, he took part in daily runs that included current and former pros like Bobby Simmons, Juwan Howard, Michael Finley, Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Luther Head and Will Bynum.

Walker hopes to convince a team that he can be a leader. He contributed to the Heat's 2006 championship team, after all, playing in all 82 regular-season games, averaging 12 points a game and starting every playoff game during Miami's title run. (He said he spoke with Pat Riley a month or so ago, for 20 minutes, and that Riley told him he had to go in another direction, and he understood.) He also thinks he can be a cautionary tale for young players about the perils of living large.

"I think a lot of people think I lost my money gambling," he said. "That's not the case. I went out into the real estate market and I personally guaranteed for seven companies, seven different banks. And I put basically my livelihood, my financial portfolio on the line. And like everybody else, I got caught in the recession. And the banks callled for all the loans, and I kept myself $12-$13 million in debt. And having to pay to get out of this debt. It was a terrible decision on my part. It's nobody else's fault but mine...

"I would tell guys that make a lot of money in the NBA, just wait until your career's over with. You'll be still a young man, in your 30s, probably late 30s, to invest your money. Just save it until that time comes, where you can watch it and manage it. And me not being able to watch and manage it, and making a lot of money, and being irresponsible and not keeping up with it, it cost me at the end of the day."

Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker started every game during the 2006 NBA Finals as Miami won the title.
Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

He says he was a fast gambler who bet big, won big and lost big.

"Just got competitive, got down," he says. "I was down a couple hundred thousand and started chasing. Got (down) a couple more, just continued to chase. And obviously it got to the point where it got out of control, and it just kind of ended right there.

"I wanted to kind of get the situation taken care of before it got to this point, but the casino wanted the full payment at the time. And I wasn't able to give them the full payment. So it probably was a little misbelief, because of the money I've made throughout my career. They probably figured, 'Ah, he's got it; he's just messing with us.' And it just didn't work out. So they took the legal action. And it's still the same situation that's going to happen now. They're going to get their money back."

He says he no longer gambles, and that he and the casinos are "rectifying the situation." (His attorney, Jonathan Powell, did not return phone calls.) But Walker nonetheless filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in Florida last May, listing $12.7 million in liabilities and just $4.28 million in assets, including his 2006 championship ring.

He says he made the decision to file for bankruptcy after realizing he wouldn't be able to fight debtors off indefinitely. Though any liquid assets -- including whatever money Walker does have left -- will immediately be given to some of his creditors, the bankruptcy protection will allow him to not have to pay some of the people he owes. One of the people he still owes is Bartlestein, who won a judgment against Walker for $450,000. The normally loquacious Bartlestein, after thinking about it for several minutes on Friday, declined comment.

"Nothing good can come from me saying anything," he said.

So, how has the bankruptcy filing helped Walker?

"It hasn't helped me yet," he said with a laugh. "I'm still in court. It hasn't helped me yet. I'm hoping it does help me. Hopefully I'm able to get relieved of some of this debt and be able to start my life over."

Walker does not apologize for the things he bought himself and his family. He does admit the posses weren't such a good idea. A lot of the people that hung around while the money was around are no longer around. Someone needed $50,000 for ... whatever? He gave it to them.

"I came into the league at 19, which is when most of the young guys in the league are coming in right now," he says. "And I think that's another valuable asset that I can share with younger guys, which I have no problem sharing. That to tell them that sometimes, we all come, most of the guys in the NBA are inner-city products, so a lot of people think you owe it to the community and people. But it's a way you can do it without spending a lot of money. And I think I can obviously vouch for that, and a person that did that. I learned from it. That's the one thing that you sit back and wonder what could I have done differently, that's one thing I possibly could have done differently, is just cut down your entourage, and it would cut down so much money."

He claims his new circle is almost all family, including his three brothers and his sister, along with his mother Diane. Bobcats forward/center Nazr Mohammed, Walker's former teammate at Kentucky, always has stuck by Walker, along with former Cavaliers guard Damon Jones. And former Celtics player and coach M.L. Carr is "like a father" to Walker, he said, calling him almost every day. Isiah Thomas called out of the blue one day, offering Walker the use of his facilities at Florida International.

"It's always a few people that you meet in the past that are genuinely good people, and I still have those," he says. "But I just kind of cut my circle down, tremendously. You can't be that helping hand that you once were. The one thing about me is that I've always been a visible basketball player, especially in the city of Chicago. I never been one of those guys (that hid). I always come home in the summer, spend four months, I'm always out and about in the public where you can see me, whether it's in a restaurant or an event. So I've always been that type of person, kind of out. Now I just kind of try to fly under the radar, you know. I like to play golf."

Nor does he plan to stay away from Chicago, even though he's been robbed twice in his hometown, including a home invasion in 2007. His two daughters, 16 and 11, live there with their mothers, and Walker has good relationships with both that he wants to maintain -- although it has been hard detailing his mistakes to them. He also knows he's made it hard on his younger brothers, who've had to hear about his misdeeds in the streets.

Antoine Walker, Paul Pierce
Antoine Walker's glory days in Boston with a young Paul Pierce seem so long ago now.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

"I don't want them to take the negative comments and react on them," he said. "Because at the end of the day, your big brother's okay at the end of the day. So if I can handle it, I want them to handle it. I worried about that for a while. That was something I really worried about for a while. My sisters, we're all very close. So I don't want them to take somebody saying something negative out there, and react on it, and do anything wrong to put themselves in jeopardy."

But that's not their fault. That's his fault. That's what Walker has to deal with as he tries to convince someone he's worth believing in again. He is a long, long way from the Shimmy and the three All-Star appearances, and the days he and Paul Pierce were the Celtics' future, and the day that he signed an extension in Boston that should have taken care of his family for life. There's no buzz that I can detect that there's a team interested, so Walker will wait and see if someone goes down during camp and a team needs a body. He wouldn't mind a camp invite just so he can stay in shape, even if there's not a real prospect of a job.

And if it ends for him here? Well, he's been poor before.

"I feel like I've been blessed," he said. "God has blessed me 10 times, to make the money I've made. To take my family out of poverty, to where we were. And now we've just gotta re-grind. I've been there before. It's not that bad where I'm at poverty, but at the same time, I've been down before. Hopefully through the grace of God I get an opportunity to play basketball. If I don't, I'll go do something else."

Dribbles

Gilbert Arenas will start training camp today in Washington, a little more than nine months since he took part in one of the dumbest, close-to-career-suicide acts any player has ever done.

But the other man in GunGate is also getting another -- maybe a final -- chance to stick in the NBA.

No matter his lack of judgment in bringing guns into the Wizards' locker room last season, Arenas was going to play in the league this season once he was cleared by the Commish. Whether that was Washington or not was something the Wizards had to decide. Despite all that's transpired in the last three seasons, Arenas was still averaging 22 points and seven assists when he was shut down for the rest of the season.

Javaris Crittenton
Javaris Crittenton's stint at Bobcats training camp could be his last chance to stick in the NBA.
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

But Javaris Crittenton was another matter.

Drafted in the first round by the Lakers in 2008, Crittenton has yet to find a home and has no body of work on which to fall back. He was part of the Pau Gasol trade, going to Memphis in February of 2009. But he couldn't take the starting job there, and was sent to Washington as part of the Juan Carlos Navarro deal later that year. Injuries kept him out of the lineup in Washington the remainder of that season, and he wasn't going to get much playing time once Arenas was back. Then came Crittenton's role in the gun incident, when he got into a beef with Arenas on the team's plane back from a West coast road trip about a gambling debt, then joked he'd shoot Arenas in his good knee after Arenas said he'd set fire to Crittenton's car.

Two days later, Arenas brought four guns into the locker room with a sign that said "Pick 1." Crittenton also had a gun in his possession, though, and let Arenas know he was packing. Cooler heads finally prevailed, but Crittenton ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of possession of an unregistered firearm. He received a year's probation from U.S. District Court senior judge Bruce Beaudin and was suspended for the remainder of the season along with Arenas by NBA commissioner David Stern. Many around the league thought that Crittenton's NBA career was in major jeopardy of ending before it began.

But Crittenton got a break. Larry Brown wanted to take a look at him, and so, Crittenton will be in the Bobcats' camp beginning today. He's still got an uphill road to make the team, which has -- for the moment -- D.J. Augustin and Shaun Livingston ahead of him. But at least he has a chance.

"It's a privilege to play in the NBA," said Bartlestein, Crittenton's agent. "Javaris made some mistakes, but [he] took it to heart, and I don't think you'll see any problem from him. He's got good people around him."

From Charlotte's perspective, bringing Crittenton in on a non-guaranteed deal is an inexpensive, safe way to take a look a guy who's still just 22 and was regarded as one of the better point guard prospects after his single season at Georgia Tech. The Bobcats look at Crittenton in much the same light as Acie Law IV -- a young guard who's been moved around, often for reasons that had nothing to do with his play, but nonetheless has lost some confidence and needs an opportunity to show what he can do.

"The convesations we had have been pertaining more to basketball, what he brings to the equation in terms of his skill set," Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins said Sunday. "His situation in that thing last year, it's kind of the past as far as we look at it. He paid his debt for the situation. He's trying to move on and we're trying to move forward as well."

Top O' the World, Ma!

We begin our top 15 Power Rankings this week with the first preseason snapshot, taking into account all the moves made this summer, but also respectful toward teams that have proven themselves year in and out in the playoffs -- which is the whole point of this, isn't it?

1) L.A. Lakers (57-25 in 2009-10, won NBA championship): When another team has three 7-footers who can all ball, and the best closer in the game, and is going for another Threepeat, for a coach with 11 rings, let me know and I'll rank them No. 1.

L.A. Lakers
Hard to argue with putting this crew as our preseason No. 1 team.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

2) Orlando (59-23, lost Eastern Conference finals to Boston): They were the best team in the league through two rounds of the playoffs, and then it came apart against Boston. Think Magic would love another shot.

3) Miami (47-35, lost in first round to Boston): Anything big happen on South Beach this summer?

4) Boston (50-32, lost NBA Finals to Lakers): Losing Kendrick Perkins is huge. He has become so critical to the Celtics' halfcourt defense. Just hard to see how the O'Neals can be as good.

5) Oklahoma City (50-32, lost in first round to Lakers): We need an adjective for how good Durant is right now. Durantastic? Kevinescenant?

6) Dallas (55-27, lost in first round to San Antonio): Saw Caron Butler in Chicago last week, and he's all ripped up.

7) San Antonio (50-32, lost in Western semifinals to Phoenix): Players tend to get much better/more relaxed the second time around with Popovich, so Richard Jefferson is due for a bounce-back season. Tiago Splitter, you're on the hot seat!

8) Chicago (41-41, lost in first round to Cleveland): Outstanding summer, but will need time to integrate new players and new system of Tom Thibodeau.

9) Atlanta (53-29, lost in Eastern seminfals to Orlando): Can Larry Drew take the Hawks to the next level -- a true title contender? Hard to see it, but Hawks will still be plenty good.

10) Utah (53-29, lost in West semifinals to Lakers): Give me Jerry Sloan and six months, and I'll give you a team that will win 50 games.

11) Portland (50-32, lost in first round to Phoenix): Aldridge, Roy and Camby have to stay healthy, and I still can't understand paying your third guard almost $7 million a year.

12) Phoenix (54-28, lost Western Conference finals to Lakers): Can't lose a guy as talented as Stoudemire and not have it hurt, but with Nash still going strong the Suns are still a factor.

13) Milwaukee (46-36, lost in first round to Atlanta): Bucks are deeper, still tough and still well-coached. But who will get the playoff basket when it needs to be made?

14) Houston (40-42, did not make playoffs): Return of the Big Man puts Rockets back in the playoffs, but how many minutes can Yao really play this season?

15) Denver (53-29, lost in first round to Utah): Suspect this is the last time we see the Nuggets in the top 15 for a while.

Nobody Asked Me, But ...

What is the rush trading Carmelo Anthony in Denver?

Let's take Melo at his word -- or the words of Leon Rose and/or Worldwide Wes, who are leaking his desire to any and all ESPN types who call -- and accept he doesn't want to be in Denver any more. But Anthony is under contract this season. He isn't going to hold out; he'll be in camp today for the Nuggets, and he'll play for the Nuggets. He may not be happy about it, but he'll play. The question is whether Denver's new braintrust is going to hold or fold.

It's a tough spot for Masai Ujiri, the new general manager who has to decide whether to deal the team's franchise player, and if so, for what. But that's the job, and Ujiri is trying to do his due diligence while 30-year-old Josh Kroenke, taking over as owner from his father, Stan Kroenke, also learns on the job.

Carmelo Anthony
The Nuggets' braintrust must decide if it will hold or fold when it comes to trading 'Melo.
Chris Trotman/Getty Images for Nike

Bret Bearup, the consultant to the Kroenke family who has even more power in Denver after the ousters of general manager Mark Warkentein and assistant GM Rex Chapman this summer, is enamored with Nets rookie Derrick Favors, according to league sources. And thus the proposed four-way deal that everyone knows about by now, with Anthony going to Jersey, Favors going to Denver along with two first-round picks and forward Andrei Kirilenko from Utah. The Jazz would get forward Boris Diaw from Charlotte, and the Bobcats would get guard Devin Harris from New Jersey. But that deal may be dying.

A source whose team is involved in the talks told me Sunday that the trade all but collapsed on Saturday and may not be able to be resucitated. The Nuggets, other sources say, want New Jersey to take on additional salaries to make the deal more luxury tax-friendly for Denver, which certainly doesn't want to be a taxpayer now. Another source said Sunday that New Jersey has agreed to take on additional salary. But the Nets still want guard D.J. Augustin from Charlotte, and the Bobcats are balking, perhaps figuring if they get Devin Harris as proposed in the four-team deal that they can trade Augustin elsewhere for additional assets.

But why is Denver so determined to make a deal now? Other teams around the league can't fathom why the Nuggets have put so much pressure on themselves to trade Anthony just because that's what Rose and/or Wes want. You can't tell me the Clippers may not become amenable to dealing some of their young talent -- excluding Blake Griffin; that ain't happening -- at the trade deadline. (I understand why the Nuggets don't want to wait until next summer, which would allow the Knicks to get back into the picture with substantial cap room to sign Anthony outright instead of having to make a trade. The Nets will have more than $20 million in cap room themselves.) Normally, you wouldn't even ask about, say, Eric Gordon. But for Carmelo Anthony? You'd be justified.

Don't the Rockets have expiring contracts (Shane Battier, Jared Jeffries), a legit four in Luis Scola freshly signed to a reasonable extension and a young three in Chase Budinger? Don't the Wizards have a young big in JaVale McGee who is just scratching the surface of his potential, other young bigs like rookie Kevin Seraphin -- compared to Nene by many before the Draft -- and, I must point out, a proven scorer in Arenas who is still just 28? As well as what will likely be another Lottery pick next year? And the Nuggets can always double back to the Nets, and Favors, if nothing better comes along.

But something better might. And the Nuggets will never know if they rush through a trade.

... And Nobody Asked You, Either

He has something to say -- surprise -- about LeBron. From Meneek Jones:

I'm trying to understand all of the hoopla surrounding the LeBron James decision, not the special broadcast "decision", because that was clearly ridiculous, but his decision to win. As a sports fan, I'm confused why superstars form a proverbial line to bash this young guy. I must be missing something, because for as long as I can remember free agency has been about one of two things: winning or money. So, are our sports heroes telling us that money is a better reason to jump ship than winning and if so what kind of message are they sending to the young Lebron's out there?

Let's go down the list of hypocrites and please help me understand how they have the nerve to call this guy a coward or mentally weak. Let's start with my idol Charles Barkley, and let me start by saying, I am a huge fan of Barkley. Charles famously was first traded to the Suns -- now please ask Charles if that trade was cleared by him and please ask him to say he accepted it based on something other than winning and money. The Suns had Kevin Johnson, Danny Ainge, Cedric Ceballos, Dan Majerle, all proven stars and specialty players, do you think if they had Antawn Jamison, Jamario Moon, Mo Williams and J.J. Hickson as his teammates, Charles would have pulled the trigger?

LeBron James
Has LeBron James deserved all the criticism he's received for 'The Decision?'
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Estabrook Group

(Michael) Jordan in his hay day had players like ummm Pippen, one of the top 50 players in the world, Dennis Rodman, probably the best specialty player ever, Steve Kerr, one of the better shooters of his time. Of course he stayed a Bull; he's not an idiot. Tell me he really had to think long and hard about free agency. Can he really with a straight face say he can relate to LeBron, was his legacy really at stake?

Ok now let's move on to Reggie Miller. He presented himself as the dedicated patriot, who jeopardized his chance at a title to stay loyal to his small time market. Please! Does Reggie think we are crazy and forgot that he had a team of stars? His team had Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson and before that he had Mark Jackson, Sam Perkins, Rick Smits, Jalen Rose and Dale Davis. This guy had all the pieces in place to win a championship! Again, was it really rocket science for him to stay where he had the best chance to win and could make the most money?...

What does it say about the state of our society that a young guy is vilified for choosing to be humble and to actually want to win, more than he wants to be a billionaire? I understand the fans being hurt, they have every right ... but as far as being angry at LeBron for wanting to play with his friends, for being humble and coming to a team with a established leader and superstar, for walking away from 50 million plus dollars, for choosing to maintain the purity of the game he obviously loves and wanting to win -- I applaud this guy, even if I'm the only one.

I would point out that neither Barkley, nor any other player, "pulls the trigger" on trades; teams do. But your point is duly noted.

He smells a lack of love for the Wasatch. From Justin Key:

Mehmet Okur
It wasn't intentional to leave Mehmet Okur off last week's Talented Ten list ... honest.
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images

Being a Jazz fan, I'm used to my team being snubbed from almost every list imaginable. But I don't see how Rod Beaubois or Josh Howard's injuries are more pivotal to their respective teams than Mehmet Okur's is. Beaubois plays limited minutes in a loaded backcourt as a third-string PG and Howard fell off the face of planet NBA long before his trade to D.C. Okur is pivotal to what the Jazz do. He spreads the floor in the halfcourt offense and spots up in transition with one of the most deadly strokes in the league. Putting him alongside Al Jefferson could prove to be one of the best 4-5 punches in the NBA. Why no love for Mehmet Okur?

Justin, this is the truth. Originally, the "Talented Ten" item was supposed to be a "Damaged Dozen." The other two players on the list were Kenyon Martin and Mehmet Okur. I didn't hear back from the Nuggets until Monday (one supposes they were working on Carmelo trade scenarios all weekend) and didn't hear back from Utah at all. I didn't want to just rely on newspaper/Internet reports when discussing someone's rehab; I wanted to hear from someone on the team. So I took K-Mart and Memo out. I swear.

When the role player takes center stage. From Jon Chay:

I'm a huge fan of your column, keeps me busy at work. That being said, I do agree that the Mr. Fifteen section could use slight improvements but is definitely to keep. Sometimes hearing about a dude who doesn't even suit up but wears a suit instead can be pretty bland. Thus I suggest to rename 'Mr. Fifteen' to 'Step Up' (as in the horrible I'm-such-a-rebel-so-I-disobey-my-parents-and-dance-anyways film). What this column would represent are guys who normally would be you lower profile 7th to 15th man who played a role in the previous weeks. I mean a guy like Johan Petro who stepped up for two weeks or so when K-Mart was down or someone like Chris Hunter. You get my drift.

Taken under advisement, Jon. Good suggestion. Still thinking about what to do there.

Send your questions, comments, criticisms and corrections to daldridgetnt@gmail.com. If it's sufficiently funny, snarky or otherwise engaging we just may publish it!

By The Numbers

4 -- Players the Hornets have added -- Jannero Pargo, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Willie Green and Jason Smith -- to the roster in the past week, along with camp invitees Joe Alexander, D.J. Strawberry and Darryl Watkins.

19 -- Exhibition games in Mexico over the years, including this October's game in Mexico City between the Spurs and Clippers. The league says that is the most games played in any country outside of the United States and Canada.

1,335 -- Victories for Don Nelson, the NBA's all-time winningest coach, as his career likely ends following last week's dismissal/resignation/call-it-what-you-want by the Warriors.

I'm Feelin' ...

1) Keith Smart has waited a long time for his chance to run an NBA team. Who knows if he'll be successful, but my sense is that the job and the moment won't be too big for him.

2) BDizzle is up for some different hardware today. Good luck.

Keith Smart
Here's hoping Keith Smart's first stint as an NBA coach is a successful one.
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

3) Whether you agree or disagree with the take, this is a good read by Vince Thomas.

4) Chris Whitney was one of the real good guys in the league when he was a player -- honest, self-aware and available. Glad to see him re-surfacing with the Bobcats as Director of Player Development.

5) I forgot to include this last week...Kevin!

6) I was in Denver over the weekend for our TBS game on Sunday between the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants. Lemme just say that Troy Tulowitzki -- who drove in five on Saturday to give him 40 RBI for the month, three short of the all-time record for one month, set by one George Herman (Babe) Ruth -- is one incredible player. He's got 95 RBI this year, and that's after missing 33 games with a broken wrist.

7) You know how, when one of your buddies gets a promotion, you're happy for him/her, but you're also kind of sad, because they're not around as often and can't just go to lunch anymore at the drop of a hat, and they have a lot of new responsibilities, and the world you inhabit becomes just a little bit less interesting? That's what it was like hearing that Dave D'Alessandro, the best NBA beat writer on earth, is leaving the Nets beat to become a full-time general columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger. Will he be a great sports columnist? Absolutely. Will he still write about the Nets a lot? I'm sure. But the world of NBA journalism is a little less interesting today.

Not Feelin' ...

1) The unmasked, unvarnished display of real emotion is one of the gazillion things that makes the NBA great to watch, both in person and on TV. The league is getting really close to legislating that out of existence. It should reconsider, and let players be real, within reason.

2) The Nuggets are going to miss assistant coaches Tim Grgurich and Jamahl Mosley (now in Cleveland) almost as much as Carmelo. Gurg had every player's ear and was the only guy to tell Kenyon Martin to shut up and play; Mosley is one of the up and coming young guys, both in terms of player development and demeanor.

3) The Kings swung and missed again this week on finding a place to build a new arena. It is getting very late in the game for this to have a good ending in Sacramento.

4) It's not a cap-breaker by any means, but a $35 million extension for Andray Blatche, Wizards? We'll see how that comes out in the wash.

5) The University of Virginia is known as "Mr. Jefferson's University." USC sports the Men and Women of Troy. And my alma mater has, uh, this.

Tweet of the Week

Shake weight! Possibly the dumbest invention ive seen for a while.,, if you buy it, well ....umm....
-- Bucks center Andrew Bogut (@AndrewMBogut), early Saturday morning. Don't be dissing one of our fine NBA TV sponsors, Andrew. Then again, proves you were watching.

They Said It

"I think I'll be all right to make it through the year."
-- Phil Jackson, acknowledging to reporters at his camp-opening news conference that he took a pay cut from his $12 million salary last year to return for what he insists will be his final season with the Lakers.

"We just need to go in a different direction at this time."
-- Joe Lacob, who will soon be the Warriors' majority owner, detailing the team's decision to get rid of Don Nelson on Thursday to the San Jose Mercury News.

"This summer was very, very stressful for me. I really lost a lot of love for the game this summer."
-- Cavaliers guard Mo Williams, telling Yahoo! Sports he was so disappointed that LeBron James left the Cavaliers he contemplated what "life after basketball" would be. Williams later denied that he had talked about retiring, but Marc Spears, the Yahoo! writer, is one of the best (and a friend, FWIW). I wasn't there, but I'll go with Spears.

Longtime NBA reporter and columnist David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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