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RE: Walker Whines While Mavs Win
I can't imagine anyone still being upset that this nutjob is no longer on
Reply-To: Way Of The Ray <wayray@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Walker Whines While Mavs Win
Date: 09 Mar 2004 08:27:50 -0500
Walker vents after Mavs handle Suns By Art Garcia Star-Telegram Staff
DALLAS - Antoine Walker tried to remain positive after the Mavericks
snapped a three-game losing streak with Monday night's 103-90 victory
against Phoenix at American Airlines Center, but the frustration began to
seep out nonetheless. Then the dam broke.
Walker, on the bench for 30 of 48 minutes against the Suns, aired out his
disappointment in a suddenly reduced role and a lack of communication with
the coaching staff. Walker has not played more than 27 minutes in the past
four games and with a six-point scoring effort against Phoenix, he has
failed to reach double figures in four of the past five games.
Asked if he's working his way through a slump, Walker let the frustration
"I can't work my way through nothing, man," he said. "I'm trying to play
every day. It's too late for that. I'm just out here playing. It's tough to
do anything in 18 minutes, so whatever the situation is, hopefully it works
out the best for this team.
"It's the first time I've dealt with this in my career. I've never played
18 minutes in my life. It's hard for me to adjust to it. It's kind of late
in the season, so I'm just going to have to deal with it. My goal has to be
to try to keep focused and help this team win. It's tough, man. I'm trying
to grind through it."
Mavs coach Don Nelson said after the game that Walker has played his way
into a reduced role. The starting small forward has made just 13 of 48
shots (27 percent) in the past five games. He's averaging 7.8 points and
5.6 rebounds, considerably down from his season averages, during that
"He'll play his way out of this," Nelson said. "He gives me no choice. I
have to do something for his good, for my good, for the team's good. He's
in a slump right now and when a guy is in a slump, you try to encourage him
to come out of it, and you don't play him as much until he works his way
out of it. Hard work will get him out of it."
Nelson, who declined to comment after Walker voiced his concerns, has made
it known that his players have to earn their minutes as the season winds
down to the postseason.
"We can't fool around with 20 games left," Nelson said. "We're jockeying
for position here. It's really the same with anybody, he just happens to be
the guy that hasn't been playing the last few games, so I don't want to
blow a game because of it. Other guys are playing very well."
Walker said he would welcome a chance to discuss his decreased role with
Nelson, but that has yet to happen. Walker, traded from Boston a week
before the start of the season, had problems at times with the Celtics'
"I love the game of basketball," Walker said. "I work hard at it, but going
back and forth with the coaches, I'm way beyond that in my career, so I'm
not going to even ask. Hopefully one day he'll pull me to the side to tell
me. Maybe he's trying to see what he's got in other players. I don't know."
Nelson had counted on Walker to be a secondary playmaker behind Steve Nash.
Walker checked out with 5:48 left in the first quarter and didn't return
for the remainder of the half. For the rest of the game his time was
divided among Antawn Jamison, Eduardo Najera and Josh Howard, who combined
to play 95 minutes off the bench.
"I'm trying my best. I'm not perfect," Walker said. "I've got to be able to
play through mistakes just like anybody else in the league, in the NBA.
Right now it's unfortunate. It's a frustrating situation for myself. I've
never been in it, so it's something I have to deal with. It's hard for me
to play mistake-free basketball. It's hard for me to shoot the basketball
and then have to worry about if I turn the ball over ... if I'm coming in
and out of the game. It's hard for me to do that."
Mavs tri-captain Michael Finley is Walker's closest friend on the team and
is ready to lend his fellow Chicago native a helping hand or an ear.
"It's not about being captain or a teammate," Finley said. "It's about
being a friend. I'll call him, if not tonight, first thing tomorrow. He may
need somebody within the organization just to bounce off his concerns. I'll
be there for him."
Steve Nash, another captain, said he's there to support Walker, but added,
"We can't have negativity in here right now."
The Mavs (40-23) did avoid their
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