In a recent interview on the Knuckleheads podcast, former three-time NBA All-Star Antoine Walker joined Quentin Richardson and Darius Milles, where he talked about multiple things from his career and also his personal life. Walker was once a great player capable of dropping 25 points on any team in the NBA, but his unhealthy lifestyle and injuries caused his NBA career to end when he was only 31 years old.
Walker came into the league in one of the most stacked draft years of all-time, the 1996 class that featured multiple great All-Star and Hall-of-Fame players. Walker made a name for himself as a member of the Boston Celtics and remembers his first NBA game when he had to face his favorite team growing up, the Chicago Bulls that were at that time the best team in the NBA.
One of the first memories Walker has from his rookie season is the game against the Bulls and specifically Scottie Pippen. According to Walker, Pippen was the first to bust his a** in the NBA, and he realized right there he was in the big boys league. Pippen gave Walker all sorts of problems during the game, and he finished with only 12 points shooting poorly from the field.
The first person to bust my ass was Scottie Pippen. My first game was against the Bulls in 1996. So you got to imagine for me. I was a Bulls fan for the first three championships, and my first real NBA was against Chicago Bulls, so it was Scottie Pippen. I was a three when I came to the league, I played the three-position, so I got my workout in, he took care of me really good. I would take that from Pip.Antoine Walker, via Knuckleheads Podcast
Walker says that Pippen’s versatility was something that made him a special player, with defense being his greatest strength. Walker was known as a big guy that could handle the ball, but in that specific game, Pippen made his life a living nightmare playing incredible defense on Walker all game long. Walker believes still to this day, Pippen is one of the best defenders in NBA history.
His defense, he had those long arms, and you know I like to play with the ball. As a rookie, I just trying to figure out how to score in the league, it’s my first game, and I’m trying to play with the ball, and it goes off my league. Another thing, the athletic ability, and all these little things played a part that made him tough for me. Pippen was one of the best defenders out there.Antoine Walker, via Knuckleheads Podcast
Even though everyone respects Pippen and everything he brought to the table for the Bulls, it seems he often gets neglected in the conversation for best wing players in NBA history. His ability to play the game exceptionally well on both ends of the floor is something rarely seen in the NBA, and at often times Pippen made that look unbelievable easy every time he stepped on the basketball court.