Antoine Walker Introductory Press Conference
To all of you who have followed Antoines career and what hes done in Kentucky and also in Boston, theres no doubt in my mind from coaching against him and watching him play for seven or eight years while he was the backbone of the Celtics, resurrecting that franchise along with Paul Pierce, (what hes able to do). Hes one of the very few guys in this league who has averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds a game every year. He has been asked to do a lot in a system where he was called on to score and rebound and defend. Ive coached a lot of guys, but Ive coached two players in my lifetime, Magic Johnson and Lamar Odom, who were very, very unique in the fact that they had size, theyre 6-9 and 6-10 , and incredible basketball skills. They can handle the ball off the dribble, they are able to see the floor and take it to the basket. They really shoot the basketball and they are able to post up. They have the ability to do a lot of things. Its hard to find that today. Thats what we have in one package. What he has proven over the past eight or nine years is what we have room for in this franchise.
Antoine is only one of six players last year who averaged 19 points and nine rebounds a game. We feel like theres a definitive role for him, where hes going to be on the court helping this team trying to achieve what it is we need to achieve over the next couple of years. I am very happy to welcome Antoine Walker to the Miami HEAT and hope that we have a tremendous amount of success. Its going to take me about one week to get over the fact that hes been entrenched in Boston green for so long. I know its hard to get it out of your system. He knows what its like to play for a franchise with great tradition and expectations. Without any further ado, I would like to open up the floor to Antoine and feel free to ask questions.
Question: Why is Miami the place you wanted to play?
Antoine Walker: Obviously, the opportunity was too good to pass up the opportunity to play with Shaq (Shaquille ONeal) and Dwyane (Wade) was something, as a player in this league, you dream about. I was just hoping it could get done. Im excited. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for me as a player to be alongside two good players. With Jason, James, Udonis Haslem and all of the other guys that we have on this team, we have a great opportunity to do something (special). I have never come into a season and said our goal is to win a championship, so this is a big difference now in my career. Im looking forward to the opportunity. Im going to try to take it on with the right mind set and help this team win.
Question: How difficult was it playing for four different teams in the last three years? How hopeful are you that you will play in Miami for a while?
AW: The first move was difficult because I had been in Boston for seven years. Moving from Dallas to Atlanta was a situation where me, Steve (Nash) and Antawn (Jamison) left. It was a situation where they were trying to shake up the team. Going back to Boston kind of put closure to it for me getting the opportunity to go back and play with Paul again. We made a little run at the end of the season. It was nice and we kind of put closure to it. Now, Im 28. My career is just starting. I feel like now I have the opportunity to vie for a championship. Getting moved, its very difficult. After the first time, thats when it really bothered me. Now, Im in a situation where I want to play for the HEAT for six years. If not, I want to make the most of the opportunity right now. This is an opportunity that I dont want to go by.
Question: Did you and Pat Riley talk about the possibility of playing a bench role?
AW: Im just here to play basketball to be honest with you. This role, that role, Im not worried about it. Im looking at it as an opportunity to come in and play ball. Udonis had a great year. He was a big part of what they did last year. I have a lot of respect for him. Coming into training camp, were just going to play. Were going to see whats the best situation to help this team chemistry wise. Whoever comes off the bench has to take that role and understand that hes still going to be a big part of this. I know Im going to play. I know its Shaq first, Wade second and I hopefully can be that third option in that situation. I knew the situation coming in. This is a chance to do something special and I just want to make it work.
Question: How much have you played small forward and defended small forwards? Would you be comfortable guarding smaller players?
AW: I played small forward my first year (in the league) and when I played in Dallas I played a lot of small forward. Im comfortable. Itll be different because I havent guarded that position, chasing off screens and things like that. I have two months to get ready for the season and training camp, so those things you have to work on. Thats a different game plan from the wing position. Thats something that I definitely have to work on. I havent played there in a long time.
Question: Are you expected to play both forward positions?
AW: I want to play everything. I dont care what position I play. I just want to be on the floor playing.
Question: You have generally been asked to score a lot on your former teams. How will you make the adjustment of being a probable third option?
AW: This is the first time that I just get to play basketball. Its kind of like the Dallas situation a little bit. Obviously, having Shaq is a little different. You have a low-post presence inside. Now, I can come into every game and just play ball. In past years, I had to come in and score 20 to 25 points a night for my team to win. Now, I dont have to worry about that. I can just come in and play ball. Whatever the night calls for us to do to win, I just want to do.