Antoine Walker - #8 - Boston Celtics
Forward | Born: February 12, 1976
- Three-Time NBA All-Star
- Led Celtics to 2002 Conference Finals
- Averaged at least 20 PPG Five Times with Celtics
- 1996 NCAA Champion
- 1996 All-SEC First Team Selection
Drafted sixth overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1996 NBA Draft.
Antoine Walker played seven and a half seasons in Boston which included his only three All-Star appearances.
Antoine Walker - Biography
By Marc D'Amico
The Boston Celtics were essentially a star-less franchise for a handful of seasons after Larry Bird retired in 1992. Antoine Walker changed that trend quickly when the franchise drafted him sixth overall during the 1996 NBA Draft.
Walker burst onto the national scene as a sophomore at Kentucky in 1995-96. He averaged 15.2 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game that season as a starting forward on the Wildcats’ national championship team. Walker’s strong play that season garnered All-SEC First Team and All-NCAA Regional Team selections.
Walker chose to enter the star-studded 1996 NBA Draft after his two seasons at Kentucky. He joined players such as Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash in the 1996 Draft. Walker would go on to battle with those players as an NBA star for the majority of his career.
The Celtics were in a rebuilding stage when Walker came aboard, which allowed him to take the reigns as the team’s featured offensive player. He immediately became a double-double threat, as he logged strong scoring and rebounding numbers in his first nine NBA seasons.
Walker’s rookie campaign featured averages of 17.5 PPG, 9.0 RPG and 3.2 assists per game. He was selected to the NBA’s All-Rookie team that season along with Iverson, Marbury, Camby and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
The following season, Rick Pitino, Walker’s former coach at Kentucky, came on board as Boston’s head coach. Pitino gave Walker the green light on offense and that led to the forward’s first NBA All-Star appearance.
Walker’s numbers spiked in nearly every statistical category during his first NBA season with Pitino. He averaged a double-double in 1997-98 with 22.4 PPG and 10.2 RPG. He also dished out 3.3 APG and grabbed 1.7 steals per game that season.
While Walker’s 1997-98 campaign was impressive, he continued to improve over the coming years. In 2000-01, while playing alongside Paul Pierce, Walker averaged a career-high 23.4 PPG to go along with 8.9 RPG and 5.5 APG. Fans voted him in as a starter for the 2002 All-Star game and then coaches selected him as a reserve for the 2003 All-Star game.
Walker’s All-Star play meshed well with the up-and-coming Pierce, who was selected 10th overall by the Celtics in 1998. The two star forwards teamed up to bring the Celtics back to relevance in the early 2000s.
After missing the playoffs in six consecutive seasons from 1995-2001, Walker and Pierce led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002. That was the first of four consecutive playoff appearances by the team.
Unfortunately for Walker, his career became unstable beginning in 2003. He turned into the NBA’s form of hot potato, as he was bounced around from team to team in six trades over the course of five years.
The Celtics chose to trade Walker to the Dallas Mavericks shortly before the 2003-04 season tipped off. He was sent to Dallas along with Tony Delk in exchange for Raef LaFrentz, Chris Mills, Jiri Welsch and a 2004 first-round draft choice. Walker played that season with Dallas before being traded to Atlanta the following offseason.
Shortly after Walker’s arrival in Atlanta, the Celtics got the itch to bring their former star back home to Boston. The C’s re-acquired Walker from the Hawks on Feb. 24, 2005 in exchange for Tom Gugliotta, Gary Payton, Michael Stewart and a first-round draft pick. Walker played 24 games with Boston that season and averaged 16.3 PPG and 8.3 RPG.
Walker’s reunion in Boston was very short-lived. He was traded yet again during the 2005 offseason, this time to the Heat, where he would play his next two seasons. That stint in Miami included an NBA championship in 2006 while playing alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade.
His career wrapped up in 2007-08 with the Timberwolves after Miami traded him to Minnesota on Oct. 24, 2007. Walker was traded once more, to the Grizzlies in June of 2008, but he never played a regular season game in Memphis.
Walker may have been traded several times during his final years in the NBA, but everyone will remember him for his prime seasons in a Celtics jersey. He played seven and a half seasons in Boston which included his only three All-Star appearances. He averaged at least 20 PPG in five of those seasons.
Those numbers are great, but the lasting impact of Walker’s career in Boston was the re-establishing of the Celtics as a playoff contender alongside Paul Pierce. Without his strong play, the Celtics may have never escaped their lottery-ridden years of the mid- to late-90s.
Height: 6'9" Weight: 245 LBS Birth: 02/12/76 College: KENTUCKY '96
First round draft choice (6th overall) in 1996... Traded with Tony Delk to Dallas for Raef LaFrentz, Chris Mills, Jiri Welsch and a 2004 first round draft choice on 10/20/03... Traded to Boston in exchange for Tom Gugliotta, Gary Payton, Michael Stewart and a future first round choice on 02/24/05.