Comcast SportsNet New England's Gary Tanguay sat down with former Boston Celtics star forward Antoine Walker for a lengthy 14-minute interview yesterday afternoon. They discussed a number of interesting topics, including Walker's bankruptcy, his time with the Celtics, Rick Pitino's failures in the NBA, Brad Stevens' future as a coach, and the overall state of the franchise. Here is the full transcript:
Antoine says he is debt-free
"I'm doing good. I finally got through my bankruptcy. I got my discharge, so I'm debt-free now, which I'm excited about. I can move forward with my life. Obviously financially now I'm not really where I'd like to be at but I'm surviving, I'm alive and well and healthy, and back ready for the second challenges in my life. "
Lessons learned after bankruptcy
"It's about trusting people and putting my faith in people that don't deserve my faith. I need to be wiser with money and the value of a dollar. I needed to be smarter while going through the bankruptcy process and kind of seeing where I made my mistakes financially, where I wasted money and did a lot of things that I didn't need to do to put myself in that position; investing and trusting in people to handle my financial portfolio. I learned a lot. Now I can come back and help younger guys with it as I continue with my life. It's something I learned but I'm happy to be healthy and my family was a 100 percent supporter. I'm ready to move forward with my second chance in life."
On what it was like to leave Boston
"It was very hard for me. I cried when I left. I was very disappointed. I thought we had the makings of a championship team, I thought we were right there knocking on the door. We blew a golden opportunity being up 2-1 against New Jersey with Game 4 on our home floor. I thought me and Paul (Pierce) had great chemistry. We were one of the top scorers in the league as a duo; I thought we were a strong point guard away from getting over the hump. We never really had a true center or a real big man with us on our run. We thought we were a couple pieces away. With the trade and how it happened, before the first game to get traded it was very difficult. It was the first time I felt that way."
On Paul Pierce leaving Boston
"I haven't had a chance to speak to Paul but I thought the Celtics should've put him away like Reggie Miller. He's the one guy that you keep on the team and let him play with the young guys. If you look at Indiana did their situation, Reggie Miller kind of played it out with that team. We played them in '05 when I came back to the Celtics and they beat us. Reggie was on that team with the young crew. Paul should've retired as a Celtic but that's tough to do in this age. Guys get big contracts and I understand the business aspect. That was one of the situations for Paul."
The failures of the 2005 Boston Celtics
"I think I got kicked out of one game, he got kicked out of another. But we had a good team and had home court advantage. Me and Paul were kind of the leaders but we had Al Jefferson, Tony Allen, Ricky Davis. We had a good little crew going, Gary Payton was on that team too. We blew an opportunity to do something special that year. That was the year I got traded and we won 13-games in a row or something and ended up winning the division."
On the development of Pierce's career
"I thought he did a great job accepting two other guys that could play on his team and he wanted to win. You get to a point in your career when you know you want to get drafted, you want to be the best player you can possibly be, then you want to make all the money you can possibly make, and then it's all about winning. I think that's one thing for me when it was an opportunity for me to go play with Shaquille O'Neal and Dwayne Wade; I jumped on it and ran to it. Paul probably said, ‘I got two other guys that I can play with and take pressure off me. They can score, they can play in big moments.' It also shows his maturity level when you look at Paul and what he has done for Boston, not just with the Celtics but also for the community with his foundation and such. He's just grown tremendously throughout his career."
Advice for Brad Stevens, don't be like Rick Pitino
"Playing for coaches before, you have to be patient. When you look at Rick Pitino and what he did in that era, he traded like 30 guys. He signed guys and traded them right away. The pacing level was so low. You need to pace things and start with one or two guys and build around them. That's a lot of things college coaches don't want to do because they are so used to winning at the collegiate level. When they winning 75 percent of their games and then they get to the NBA level and it's not the same. That's one thing that messed up coach Pitino. He just got impatient with everything; guys didn't develop fast enough and he couldn't win right away. His style of play, he couldn't incorporate it into the pro-game. When you think about Brad (Stevens), that's one thing that he'll have to figure out, what style of play does he want to play? And he'll have to get the right personnel to buy into it that feel like they can win."
On Brad Stevens' lengthy contract extension
"Well, I think that makes veteran players realize that this guy is seriously going to be here. For older guys like Rondo and Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, they know this guy will be the coach for a while. You kind of want to toe the line because you know this coach will be here for a while. But I think the biggest disconnect for him will be the player-coach relationship because of his age. When you're a young coach in the league you can get a veteran guy that may want to run over you a little bit and I think he has to set his rules early and be very demanding and disciplined on his rules. Pros will respect that."
On Rajon Rondo's personality and style
"I think he's great. He's a top-five point guard and you're not going to get a better passing, distributing point guard; and he's a defender. The thing you need to understand is that he is still maturing into a leader. He's still the same guy you won an NBA championship with. You have to respect that he has one under his belt and he knows how to win. He's fortunate to have played with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, because not a lot of guys get that luxury. So, a lot of those mistakes, they were able to cover them up because they were such good players. The Celtics need to determine if he can live with his mistakes, if he is more mature to be the one guy, or the two guy, and I think he'll get to that point. It's up to Brad Stevens and what kind of style of a point guard he wants. Coming off an ACL-injury, he's still a running, up-tempo point guard. If you want to walk him down in the half court system, he's not your point guard. If you run sets and plays, he's not your point guard that you want for your future. That's something he (Brad Stevens) needs to figure out. I don't know what type of style they'll play, but if they play up and down and play a fastbreak style of basketball, you'll get a better point guard."
Antoine says the C's are a playoff team with Rondo
"I would go to the lottery because the draft is so strong this year. This is a great opportunity with the draft being what it is because you can give up a guy like Rajon Rondo, Kris Humphries, or even Gerald Wallace, and get two picks and end up in the lottery. It's very difficult to tank your season and go super young with a first year head coach. It's tough to accept winning only 15-games and have to develop guys that might not be part of your organization, but long-term I think you need to go through this draft. You're not gonna get another one like this for a while. You could get 15-to-16 guys that will be very good young players. They're going to come in at 18, 19 years old. You need to go through draft because if you blow it up, you might as well just really blow it up. It's not a blow up right now because I think they're a playoff team with a healthy Rondo. I think they're the seventh of eighth seed and will play close to .500 basketball."
Walker continues talking about Rick Pitino
"When you think about when we did it, I won 15-games my rookie year but we had two lottery picks. We had number three and six picks. We picked Chauncey Billups at there and Ron Mercer at six. So we got lucky and had two of the first seven picks and that's what you want. You want something to build on. But kind of was one of the things with Pitino and his short leash. We traded Chauncey Billups at the All Star Break. You don't know if a player will be good by then. But that's one of the things and they'll have a lot of options. I would rather do it at start of the season instead of the middle of it so you don't have that question hovering over you the whole year. Everybody is probably wondering if Rondo will come back from his ACL first."
On Kelly Olynyk's potential
"I like him a lot. I got the chance to see him play three summer league games. I like that he's able to step out and shoot the basketball. He's a pick-and-pop guy. He has range, which is very unique. He plays the game with a lot of toughness and did in the summer league. They got a good pick."
On Jeff Green's potential
"I'm a huge fan of Jeff Green. I think he'll be an All Star small forward. I thought he became a star the night against LeBron James. To see him go mano-a-mano against LeBron and to see the way he played in the playoffs, I think he's a star. He's very versatile, he's athletic, he can shoot the three, he has flight, he had numerous dunks over people this year. I think he's the piece you build around because now you have a guy that can get you over 20-points a night. I want to see him get 20 shots a night and see what he can do with it to see if he can do it consistently."
On Jeff Green taking on ‘the wiggle'
"Nah, I like that he got my number but the wiggle is original, man. It just happened spur of the moment. I like that Jeff got my number eight. That's not why I like him, but it made me like him more that he wears my number and can play. I was happy to see that."