Antoine Walker the Gunner

By Andrew Tobolowsky

I hate Antoine Walker. I should say I hate Antoine Walker’s game, not the man personally, but I’m not going to.

I hate Antoine Walker so much that in my first writing job, a truly awful job with a truly awful organization,, I had one commenter who would follow me around to everything I posted, complaining about how I complained about Antoine Walker, even when I wasn’t. It might have been Antoine Walker.

If you are under 25 years of age you probably are not old enough to remember Antoine Walker at his absolute worst. And you probably don’t anyway, because we didn’t have stats back then. We just had impressions. A statistician would say, “I feel that Antoine had a good game today,” and then he’d write down “good game” in a big, leather-bound book, and if anyone wanted to look at that book, they’d have to slip the statistician 20 dollars, just to see whether Antoine had had a “good” or ”bad” game. It was a simpler time. We shared many milkshakes with each other.

You know how this works? Let’s take Josh Smith, a man whose inept three-point shooting, but lust for three-point shot, has become proverbial, as in “every dog has his day, Josh Smith really likes to shoot three-pointers but he’s not very good at it.” But let’s talk about J-Smoove’s stats since he supposedly fell too in love with the three-ball, something that really happened for the first time four years ago, the second season in his career in which he averaged more than even 1.4 a game. In those four years he has shot 729 three-point shots, and averaged a putrid 29% from beyond the arc. Gross, sure. Arguably illegal, perhaps.

But here’s the thing. Antoine Walker took 645 three-point shots in a season once, in 2001-2002. Sure, that season he cashed in at a spicy .344 clip, but the next year, when he shot 582 it was down to 32%, and then he was traded to the Mavericks where, in a season that Josh Smith’s worst enemy could only wish on him, Antoine shot 305 three-pointers—compared to Josh’s 466 over the last two years—and averaged 27%. This is a man who averaged 7.6 3-pointers a game over three straight seasons.

Antoine Walker is sixteenth all time in three-pointers attempted. Dirk Nowitzki—you remember Dirk Nowitzki—needs 421 three-pointers to catch up with Walker. So, now, take a minute and guess how many active three-point shooters have a better career three-point percentage than ‘Toine’s 32.5%. I’ll wait.

Actually I don’t know, because it’s significantly more than 50, which is as far as will go on active players. That’s Kevin Durant at 37.7%. Do you know where our man ranks all-time in 3-pt percentage? Because I can tell you, it’s 486th. Four better than Rodrigue Beaubois. 10 above Ricky Rubio. That’s right. Over his career, Antoine Walker was basically what happens if Ricky Rubio decided to let fly, on average, 4.8 times a game. And while you picture that horrifying shot chart, I’ll just be over here, trimming my nails.

Listen. There are people out there who will tell you how much fun that ‘Toine and ‘Tawn team was, and talk about his versatility, and admire his attitude, profoundly expressed in that famous moment when someone asked him why he shot so many threes since he was so bad at it the ball actually started screaming when it left his hands. And he said “because there are no fours,” and people like that, they think it’s cute.

Those people are literally the worst people you will ever meet. Antoine Walker was a black-hearted, soulless gunner, so selfish with the ball that there was an official UN protest against it, and anyone who likes him as a basketball player, or the idea of him, deserves to be in prison. I knew it was going to happen before he ever came to the Mavs, I knew it was going to happen while he was on the Mavs, it did happen and the fact that he grabbed 8 boards and dished 4.5 assists that season is the participation trophy of all participation trophies. No one cares, Antoine. You are your 3.7 FTA a game can go straight to…wherever.

You know what the crazy thing is?

Somehow they traded all that for Jason Terry. AND Alan Henderson AND a first-round pick. Which is such a steal, the Mavs FO should also be in prison, with anybody who likes Antoine Walker. But I’m not a jailer, I’m just your humble scribe.

Editor’s Note: Andrew Tobolowsky used to write about sports but now he mostly reads twitter. You can find him at @andytobo in case that’s something watching that is in some way interesting to you.

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