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Antoine Walker Introductory Press Conference

Antoine WalkerPat Riley: “Welcome everybody, and again thank you for coming. There’s no doubt that we would have done the trade with Memphis for Jason Williams, James (Posey) and Andre Emmett. To me, throughout the course of the month of July, being able to get Antoine involved in the transaction, being able to work out a contract but at the same time get a sign-and-trade done, was what we wanted to make sure that we could get done. We were able to do it. I think being able to bring in all three players, like I said yesterday, players who are very versatile, experienced and who have been successful as starters in the league, was paramount in the decision.

“To all of you who have followed Antoine’s career and what he’s done in Kentucky and also in Boston, there’s 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 he’s able to do). He’s 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. I’ve coached a lot of guys, but I’ve coached two players in my lifetime, Magic Johnson and Lamar Odom, who were very, very unique in the fact that they had size, they’re 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. It’s hard to find that today. That’s 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 there’s a definitive role for him, where he’s 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. It’s going to take me about one week to get over the fact that he’s been entrenched in Boston green for so long. I know it’s hard to get it out of your system. He knows what it’s 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 O’Neal) and Dwyane (Wade) was something, as a player in this league, you dream about. I was just hoping it could get done. I’m 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. I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I’m 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, I’m 28. My career is just starting. I feel like now I have the opportunity to vie for a championship. Getting moved, it’s very difficult. After the first time, that’s when it really bothered me. Now, I’m 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 don’t want to go by.”

Question: Did you and Pat Riley talk about the possibility of playing a bench role?

AW: “I’m just here to play basketball to be honest with you. This role, that role, I’m not worried about it. I’m 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, we’re just going to play. We’re going to see what’s the best situation to help this team chemistry wise. Whoever comes off the bench has to take that role and understand that he’s still going to be a big part of this. I know I’m going to play. I know it’s 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. I’m comfortable. It’ll be different because I haven’t 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. That’s a different game plan from the wing position. That’s something that I definitely have to work on. I haven’t played there in a long time.”

Question: Are you expected to play both forward positions?

AW: “I want to play everything. I don’t 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. It’s 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 don’t 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.”

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