There are two essential C’s stories out there today:
• The Globe’s Shira Springer sifted through court records, talked to Antoine Walker’s former teammates and knocked on his mom’s front door to get a handle on just how bad Walker’s financial situation is. The upshot of her fantastic work: Walker has probably spent all or most of the $110 million (pre-tax) he earned as a player:
A Globe review found that, during the last seven months, Walker has been pursued by multiple financial institutions for unpaid debts totaling more than $4 million. Court documents filed in Illinois and Florida reveal Walker was named a defendant in three recent debt-related civil cases, in addition to the ongoing check-kiting case. His former agent is also after him, citing a heap of unpaid fees.
Make no mistake: Though this is obviously a sad situation, Walker is not a victim here. His financial woes are the result of both an admirable if hideously unchecked generosity and dumb spending habits. It’s great that he donated so much money to charity, and it’s nice that he provided limos for less wealthy teammates and took them out on the road. But he didn’t have to support 70 people (70!), and he certainly didn’t need a half-dozen luxury cars and a custom-tailored suit for every day of the C’s 2002 playoff run. And $15,000-per-hand gambling sessions with MJ are always a bad idea.
As one teammate put it in the story:
“I know Antoine has enjoyed himself,’’ said a former teammate. “He had a good time, as all professionals who are in that situation should. But there’s tough lessons you learn about the responsibilities that come with being a professional athlete that makes a lot of money. Sometimes this is one of the consequences to that.’’
The parallels between ‘Toine’s off-court problems and his on-court career are eerie. ‘Toine had everything on the court—the bulk to be an effective post-up player, long-range shooting skills and the deft ball-handling of a point guard. He shouldn’t have been a mere All-Star. He should have re-defined what was possible for a power forward. But the excesses of life and the temptation of the three-pointer (“there are no fours”) overwhelmed everything else.
I have always had a strange sympathy for ‘Toine, perhaps because I am drawn to imperfection and human weakness. I hope the next story we read about him is happier.
• Must-read story #2 concerns perhaps the most controversial current Celtic: Rajon Rondo.
• Ric Bucher has a profile of Rondo in the upcoming issue of ESPN the Magazine. As of now, it’s only available online for ESPN Insider subscribers, so I’m not going to excerpt it much here. But I highly recommend reading it if/when you can get your hands/eyes on it. Among the tidbits:
– Rondo used to warm up with his shoe laces untied but will no longer do so because coaches considered it “disrespectful”;
-Rondo’s home (street number: 9) is a shrine to the Celtics. But he’s willing to leave the C’s and is already sounding a tinge bitter about the contract situation. Here’s the one quote I’ll take out:
“If I part with the Celtics, they’ll realize what they passed on. A team that wants me, that’s where I want to be.”
-Rondo was so late for Game 1 of the Orlando series that he walked in the locker room during the middle of Doc’s pre-game talk. Can you imagine the rage everyone must have felt? The culprit, according to Rondo: traffic. Rivers apparently lit into Rajon at halftime.
-He takes five showers a day on game days.
Really, the whole story is worth a read if you can swing it.
Other C’s links today:
• Nets Are Scorching, the outstanding Nets blog in the TrueHoop Network, has a Celtics preview up, complete with a hilarious photo you have to see.
• Eight Point/Nine Seconds, the TrueHoop Network Pacers blog, has a great rundown on Marquis Daniels’ time with the Pacers and what we can expect from the Grand Marquis this season.
And with that, enjoy your Sunday. Game 1 at Cleveland is about 55 hours away.