Antoine Walker breaks bread to discuss his involvement in Dreamville’s Chi-League powered by Wilson, the importance of building the Chicago community and where hoopers from the Windy City rank. He also discusses the importance of family, his thoughts on the Celtics and Heat and his hopes to work in player development.
You can check out the transcript below (please be advised transcript may contain typos or errors with less than 100% accuracy)
Welcome everybody to dope interviews brought to you by 19 Media. I’m your host Warren Shaw and today we’re back in the hoops realm and we’re joined by Chicago’s own Antwan Walker. That’s right employee number eight is in the virtual building. Here to discuss the Dreamville Chi-League powered by Wilson basketball, community engagement, coaching NBA, etc, etc. My guy Antoine what’s good family? How you feeling?
Good, man. Thanks for having me on the show.
Nah, man. No, it’s definitely our pleasure. You know, definitely great here to be chopping it up with you. And so I just wanted to like jump right in, you know, this is what we do here and dope interview. So you know, one of the premier coaches, right for this Dreamville Chi-League powered by Wilson, just what brought you into the fold to kind of get this to be part of the summer program in your Chicago?
Well, obviously, it’s a little bit more deeply for me individually. Being a part of the summer league, I got great history, dating back to when I was a kid when I was a ball boy, growing up watching this, watching somebody play Chicago State candycane it and then obviously playing and participating as a young man, then as a professional athlete, once my career would take an active role and in funding and keeping the summer league alive, and now let’s see it, obviously had a little hiatus there and now see it back. Especially in there. I think Chicago needs it. It’s been a very important part of our culture. And what will we accomplish on the basketball court in Chicago, things that we as players look back and enjoy from, from the local NBA players, European stars, high school stars, playground stars. So it just, it just holds so much history, and so big to be a part of. So I’m excited to see it come back now and then coming back to our iconic place, like Chicago State is, has been great.
So tell us a little bit more about that history. You know, there are other summer runs out there, and LA and New York and so forth and so forth. What makes Chicago’s run so special?
Well, I think it’s a combination of things that they were very competitive. We take basketball very seriously, Chicago, we got you know, we consider ourselves the Mecca. You know, you got New York, LA and Seattle’s came along now to to become very good and produce a lot of pros. But we believe that we are the best basketball players and that’s what makes it special and goes back to the history. But even think back to Michael Jordan played not somebody, you know, like Isaiah Thomas and Mark Aguirre, you had so many great hall of fame players that have participated. And then, you know, we’ve carried the torch, from the different guys to saying, and one thing that goes on the look, this is an opportunity for kids to see Pros for free. Every kid is not fortunate enough to be able to buy a ticket to an NBA game. And now they get an opportunity to see a NBA player play for seven, eight weeks, you know, for free, because guys want to play and compete. So I think that’s what makes us special.
Now that absolutely is special that that aspect of kind of giving back to the community and letting kids see some of these celebrities. So this tournament has been going on for a couple weeks or a course of a few weekends, so to speak, who are some of the big-name players and even celebrities that fans and people who might otherwise not get to interact with this, this level of talent, so to speak on a regular basis. Who are some of the names that you’ve seen out there while you’ve been out there coaching?
Well, obviously, you got the young pros. Know Jabari Parker is the father McKinney’s guys that these guys are now household names in Chicago that a lot of young kids don’t get an opportunity to see them play a lot. These guys have been moved around. So when they get an opportunity to see these guys play for some of the talent, I think was more important without naming names, I think was great as some collegiate talent with his juke gene cause division one players, Division Two, we got a pill of young talent that’s coming up that may not have the national notoriety. But now people are getting the opportunity to see them play. So I think that’s what stands out this year. by me as the league is continuing to grow. You’ll get that consistency and prose in there. And Chicago is down right now we talk about active pros from Chicago. We’re probably at our lowest point of that. So it’s really important for us to highlight that second generation of players, whether it’s on the high school level or the collegiate level, or even in the European professionals, I mean we have some great European professional, and guys who’ve done a terrific job making great living playing the game and they leave a Like the summer because they have to go overseas and a lot of people don’t get a chance to see them play so you get a chance to see them play a little bit now
Nah man really good stuff there you know Antoine and I thank you for so much for sharing some of this here too diving a little bit deeper into it. So what’s the crowd been like? Right like what’s the vibe then at the game. So I’ve described a little bit of that atmosphere for us. For those of us who haven’t been able to make it down there or up there for me
I think it’s great. The crowd has been great but me obviously playing Chicago State so this is a bigger venue to fill up. When you think about you got to fill up six or 7000 seats. No whiskey, which is tough being you know, you’re going to towards the end of the summer, and so many kids and people are going getting ready for school and going back to college. So this is tough, but I think the atmosphere has been great. I love what will send it in Janesville I’ve done as far as the cosmetic part of it as far as decorating and making it look good. making it feel like a NBA game or a real you know, collegiate game, putting that that feel to it, whether it’s signage, the ball uniforms, all those things are in play and all those things are important. When you have in the league and those things are in play right now.
Antoine community engagement is something that Dreamville and Wilson really wanted to push heavy as a part of this project and bring it out there. Just you talked a little you touched on it a little bit earlier, but just what role does the community engagement play for even you in your life in some of the stuff that you’re doing? And how do you see that this tournament? outside of what is doing on on the basketball court? How’s it impacting the community as well?
Oh, without question, I think if they’re able to make an impact in the community be huge. And it’s because Chicago is in a bad spot right now. I love my city, born and raised but heightening violence from our youth, this is at an all time high. With so much senseless killings and little kids getting killed–innocent kids– and I think when you talk about communities and having programs and things in place, it just gets those kids off the street and gets them involved in something positive. And I’m not sure which age group we need to target more than the other. But as long as we can get to our youth to show them something different. And use this not only the bat, the dream builder dream villain, obviously was a basketball can really use this and push this in the community will be great. For myself, it just was no just trying to be more than a basketball player. Understanding that I’m from Chicago, that everybody’s not going to be 696 10 and have an opportunity to make it out to basketball. But you can also do other things that I’m hoping those are some of the things we try to instill back in the community. There’s so many other in talents kids has, whether it’s music, we’ll just have to be sports. It could be a ton of things, to motivate them and maybe a trade into the real world. But just giving them different outlets have different opportunities and hopefully Dreamville, Wilson basketball and myself can also provide that type of leadership to these kids so we can try to stop this and change the narrative because Chicago’s in a bad spot right now when
We’re talking with NBA former NBA Hooper Antoine Walker about his involvement the Dreamville Chi-League powered by Wilson basketball make sure you’re following at one on Twitter at WalkerToine8 also follow Wilson basketball. You touched on something there that’s very very important. Right? You know, I mean and again, you’re more than a basketball player you’re more than a Hooper, so to speak, and you’re trying to give back into that community. You know, you’re a family man now and all of those things so what are some of the lessons that you try to instill in your family as you’ve grown up and then kind of conversely, what have they taught you you know how they helped you become a better person as well?
Well, I think we all go use sports for what is good for your inner-city kid like myself, I come from very humble beginnings. So I can speak for myself sports was an outlet was an opportunity for me to get off the streets and then do some positive. I looked at sports as an opportunity Hey, can I go to college? Can I go to school for free, and have an opportunity to further my education. And that’s what I use. That’s what I use was for. And I think that’s what we have to go back and talk to kids about. Everybody’s not going to be the NBA players just not enough jobs. You got millions of kids and millions of people that are fighting to get in the NBA, and it’s 450-475 jobs NBA, just not enough job. So I think it’s very important that we also bring out the other talents or at least try to showcase other talents with the community pro programs and, and get kids to do other things. We don’t want to put everything solely behind basketball because it’s a basketball suddenly but you also want to use basketball as a stepping stone to help better These kids, whether it’s furthering their education, whether it’s beginning some type of mentorship, where you’re getting an opportunity to put your hands on them and talk to them and guide them in the right way. And it’s summertime is such a unique opportune time to do it. And when the league gets going on a consistent basis, you’re talking about eight to 10 weeks of the summer league last summer, which is tremendous when you talk about a kid gets an opportunity to be a part of a community program for eight to 10 weeks and hopefully that’s something that Dreamville and Wilson Basketball is gonna do.
For sure for sure. So what’s a typical day like for you now you know kind of outside of the hoops world so to speak, just like how are you getting through the day and you know, transitioning and working with your family and working in the community.
For me it’s been great I mean, it was a process coming out as a play try to figure out what you want to do after you’ve done something for so long. But obviously I’m still engaged again go on TV work on Fox, ESPN I did college also work hands on with the NBA NBA players association with the financial education department went back to the league and talking to all 30 teams so I’m still involved in the game and that says But speaking of small hobbies ma’am I love to golf some I love to play a little golf family is much older kids are much older follow my daughter My daughter just graduated from the University of Western play volleyball, she got an extra year of eligibility for the pandemic. Nice so she’s at the University of Virginia and looking forward to her season starts in the next week. So going back and forth to Virginia seeing her play her singing year obviously we know how bad the pandemic was last year so she did not get an opportunity to really play so looking forward to watching her play this year. My oldest daughter’s adult and so both my kids are doing great in great spaces so just try to spend time with my family and pick up on some of these ideas but staying active as much as I can I mean just enjoying life staying active and also you know being a part of you know events like this now being a part of our training dealing with events in the summer whenever I can help out and make the city better I tried to
Nice definitely doing that man. So any hopes up you know maybe going full J.R. Smith?
No, I know I don’t want to practice that much I feel like it’s like a play I just the dedication that it would take the practice and hiitting balls that’s out my body now I want to play more for recreational I got a good group of friends that were very competitive. I mean we’re not just we’re not shooting I just know we play pretty good golf but you know, I like to stay in that realm and I don’t have the discipline to go to the range and pound 1000 balls to get good I can’t do it.
No problem with that my guy just so what’s your like? What’s your proudest moment off the court for you? I mean, you just mentioned a lot of great initiatives and things that’s happening with your family personally, you know, I always wonder what people think about after their post-career is over or their Playing career is over rather and just kind of like I’ll do they now they’re really embedded in the familial life and do those things now try to take up over scoring 50 points in the game or you know, hitting 10 threes or whatever it is I kind of what’s your proudest moment off the floor bro.
I think now is just being out in public. And people coming up one recognizing one for your basketball ability. But in Chicago people also recognize you for the things that you’ve done have to quit and tried to get back into the community. Even you know doing this interview and being part of and Wilson in Janesville asked me to be a part of getting this summer league back started in the community aspect of it, I think those are the things that you’re very proud of as a player. The basketball accolades take care of itself. But to be a part of the things that’s going on, and to see Chicago is always special, and people not just looking at you as Hey, he played basketball in the city, but also he done a lot of great things in the community. So those are some of the proudest moments and emphasize obviously, no want to add to that, you know, to be able to come from humble beginnings and to be able to make it out and do things for your family. Those are things that you I was proud of. Because you dream about it and you never know if you’re gonna have the opportunity to do it but to accomplish that and see your family in a better space than they were when you started this journey is always great.
Which I don’t want to hit here with Anton Walker here on dope interviews powered by 19 Media. Make sure you following Antoine on ToineWalker8 and make sure you follow Wilson basketball for the great work that they’re doing with Dreamville and the Summer Program tournament. Listen a couple more I let you get out of here man like you know you are Hooper right? And I mean once was always will be and I got to ask you some good questions in addition to that so who you still keeping up within the league you know when from when you play like who are some of your friends obviously peers and guys like that you spend a lot of time with but who are some of the other guys that you still kind of talk to outside of the outside next is a note on the floor
Yes a really close friends in the league. Obviously guys from Chicago Nazr Muhammad Shawn Marion Quinn red cinders mouse. Those guys I could continue to talk to will bind them. Guys we all play together in the league, we still maintain a great way to Pargo brothers, very good friends of mine. So we all still maintain a great relationship and try to help each other out with any individual endeavors or things that when we go out to court, so I think those things are great. I’m applying that. And then it’s a hoop where I just I mean, the game itself. I’m a fan. It’s about 1520. Guys, I love watching the league and my ears Westbrook, obviously yada yada. I’m a big fan of geodesy in a typical people than LeBron James. And Steph Curry’s and James Harden is obviously I love the wife those guys play and some guys just off the radar and Bradley Beal and Ja Morant and guys like that I love watch playing so during the wintertime I’m glued into my direct tv. I’m not just necessarily watching the national TV game on TNT or ESPN. I’m watching Lee pass.
Yeah, you like me like us? Yeah, I mean, like you want you wanna you want to catch it all for sure. Yes. Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins Brian Scalabrine, you all a lot of former Celtics have found ways to kind of get into the booth or to analyze the game and things of that nature right now. That’s kind of cool. Is that something that you saw yourself doing kind of be as you were even kind of dwindling down in your career? Or is it something that kind of just materialized as the years have kind of gone on? Sorry.
Well, when I first came out, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I know I love the game. I know I love to be a part of the game. And then once I got on TV and tried it out a couple times, it kind of came natural to me to talk the game and I’m I love the game, I still love the game. So it’s not like I’m pressing to watch it or as homework was, was hard to do. But it’s been great for me to be a part of the game and still watching at the level that I watch that and be able to give information that my analysts are inside of. And you know, it’s a tough job, because not a lot of turnover is very hard. You look at the bar, because the Shaqs and Kennys did it. We’ve watched them for 20 plus years. So it’s not like you said a lot of new faces on TV. So to have an opportunity to have an impact and, and have my voice being heard. It’s been great for me. It’s therapeutic to still be a part of the game.
Now I can definitely can identify with that. I’m sure it’s got to be a great, great feeling for you. Miami and Boston are two teams that made some noise to teams that you know pretty well. You know, this had some types of turnover this summer. Do you think either of those teams, you know, have a chance to win the East?
No, keep it. Yeah, just keep it real. I don’t. I like the dishes. I like Miami did I like a boss. I think there’ll be two very, very competitive teams. But the cream of the crop is in Brooklyn in Milwaukee. My biggest still gonna have to go to the Bucs. And Brooklyn, Brooklyn is always going to be based on if they’re healthy, but they’re healthy. Those three talented guys, I don’t think they can be beat in a seven game series in the Eastern Conference. So I still got Brooklyn coming out to East and No, you didn’t access but I got the Lakers coming out to West. So those are my two teams. Early predictions coming into the next new season.
So as a Boston legend, I got to ask you a specific Celtics questions, so to speak, Tatum and Brown, what’s the next step of development that you think that they need to take to try to get to the levels of Brooklyn’s in Eastern Conference in the Milwaukee’s as well to
Well, they made tremendous strides. I’ll watch those guys a lot. Both guys became All-Stars last year, and they’re gonna have to lead by example, they got to bring the other guys along. They’re no longer babies anymore. These guys now four or five years at least, they’ve been paid. They’re paid big money. It’s time to deliver the last stuff. What’s the part the last few years they’ve had yet to find a point guard, they can play with them. And they’ll have some success. So they’re going to have to welcome in a good point guard. And I think they said Dennis shrewder. Maybe he could be the answer. But they got to welcome in those guys and take more of an active leadership role, but they’re definitely talented enough to compete with anybody in the league. I think Jason Tatum is going to be scratching. I think he’s gonna be a Hall of Fame player when he’s gonna be that next Celtic that goes in there. Raptors he’s the next Paul Pierce Larry Bird Reggie Lewis he’s that next guy that we’re going to represent and be then impactful Celtic.
Antoine I think you know you’re doing amazing work in the community for the city of Chicago obviously we’re going Dreamville Wilson basketball you know and then obviously your experience within the league itself to final one is just you know you touched on you’re doing some stuff on the financial side doing some stuff in the player development space Do you want to pursue that even further and like kind of make that the main gig if you will? Maybe working for our team maybe work for the Celtics or the heat or sunlight Claire development role?
Yeah, I’m starting to lean towards it. I mean, I do love TV I love what whereas that right now I think hopefully I’ll still be able to do it. But I am leaning towards now maybe working with a team on getting one team I kind of wanted to wait till my kids were completely out of college and if I’d sadly had to move somewhere that would be a comfortable state for me to do so. I’m falling in that space. So yeah, I am looking for opportunities to maybe work with a team on a more developmental side with players obviously I would love to continue to be a mentor help Are you gonna help our players out I think it’s a need for it. The percentages are too high with athletes having trouble with their money so we could just help and we’re getting younger guys are coming to the league at 18-19 years old, consistently no and so they need help they need guidance so if I could stay in that role, I would love that I get a lot of satisfaction out of being part of that
and so on again I thank you so much for this I think all the fans listeners of our show are going to be excited to see you here you know that you’re still keeping up the great work and still being a Chicago legend and working with Dreamville Wilson basketball to make things happen in the community but also still giving back to the NBA community and the younger guys who definitely can use your insight and your knowledge and hopefully that player development thing really does work out but in the meantime, we’ll still catch you on TV you know doing your thing and providing some great insight man thank you so much for joining me man I appreciate you so much.
Thanks, man. Appreciate it.
Anytime I’m your host Warren Shaw make sure you follow me at Shaw Sports NBA make sure you follow the show at dope interviews don’t underscore interviews on Twitter and make sure you follow my man Antoine Walker here on both on Twitter and IG thank you so much this has been another Dope Interview we’ll catch you next time.