Issue 73: A Man Not Afraid to Take Any Shot

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This issue is sponsored by Craig Leener, author of the Zeke Archer Basketball Trilogy. This young-adult trilogy, which includes the books This Was Never About Basketball, All Roads Lead to Lawrence, and This Was Always About Basketball, are fantastic reads for basketball and non-basketball fans alike. I read the first book on an airplane and it gripped me throughout—I nearly turned to my seatmate several times to say, “look at this!” but then decided they’d be upset that I woke them up from a nap, so instead, I just told them they should check it out as we were getting off the plane.

I’m doing the same for you, now. These books certainly dive into some hoops action, but they’re even more about friendship and finding your path in life, which are areas we can all use some guidance on. Craig’s writing is approachable, enjoyable, and full of wonder, and I highly recommend you diving into this trilogy. Grab a copy of one or all three books here.

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Something I like to do from time to time is think about which player a state considers its favorite.

Since I recently stumbled across some bourbon (metaphorically, not the kind of stumbling that happens when you drink too much bourbon) and have been seeing a ton of Kentucky Fried Chicken commercials lately, I’ve got Kentucky on my mind.

And with all due respect to the Bellarmine Knights, Eastern Kentucky Colonels (not all of whom are named Sanders), Louisville Cardinals, Morehead State Eagles, Murray State Racers, Northern Kentucky Norse, and Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, the Kentucky Wildcats are the most popular team in the state.

The men’s team missed the NCAA Tournament this year and the state nearly declared a statewide emergency. Yep, they sure do love their basketball in Lexington.

Today’s email inspiration is a Kentucky Wildcat grad. And I like to hope Kentucky considers him at least one of their favorites.

Now, to be fair, there are plenty of Kentucky Wildcats that had better collegiate and NBA careers than Antoine Walker.

Heck, even Ashley Judd is probably more well-known as a member of the Kentucky Wildcats, and she just sits courtside at games. But Antoine Walker is a funny guy and had two notable characteristics that should make him among the tops: confidence and an elastic body.

An Incredible Amount of Confidence

If you play enough basketball in your life, eventually you’ll come across someone that has a boatload of irrational confidence. They’ll take outrageous floaters, step-back jumpers, and pull up from 35 feet without hesitation.

They’re not necessarily a ball hog (though they very well could be), but they do have a ton of belief in themselves. Sometimes it’s warranted; other times it’s wildly misplaced.

Antoine Walker never met a jumper he didn’t like. He was unafraid of taking any shot. Like, at all.

A reporter once asked him why he took so many three-pointers and he said it’s because there isn’t a four-point shot.

That was years ago, and the NBA still hasn’t introduced a four-point shot into the game, though some teams have dabbled with it during practices and the BIG3 Tournament has experimented with a four-pointer.

You know Walker is thrilled about this possible new development.

Give ‘Em a Little Shimmy

More importantly, Walker had a signature shimmy — the Walker Wiggle — that he’d pull out after making a big basket. Because he was not the most athletic player, this wiggle looked very odd, but it was a delight. Here’s a glimpse:

I was at the grocery store the other day and saw a woman looking at some chicken. She was probably listening to music in her headphones, which likely fueled her next move of a celebratory shimmy and shake.

The best part? She noticed I had seen her doing it and didn’t care one bit. I love that confidence and hope she did 25 more shimmies that day.

See how you can try it out in your daily life!

When you find a rare item at a pawn shop, give a little wiggle.

Sneak ahead of someone at the store that has 27 items in their cart — wiggle as you plop your products down on the conveyor belt.

Just sent that report to your boss and now it’s the weekend? Get out a conch shell, blow it loudly and proudly, and let the whole city know: it’s wiggle time.

We have Antoine Walker to thank for that.

But Where Did All His Money Go?

Despite lots of fun on the court, Walker’s story took a sad turn. He made a little more than $108 million during his NBA career but lost it all — and pretty quickly.

Walker last played in the NBA in 2008 and filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Walker had to sell off his championship ring and put up his houses among his assets.

He explains how a lavish lifestyle, gambling, investing in real estate, and buying things for friends and family caused that money to disappear.

At one point, Walker never wore the same suit twice. As someone that owns far fewer suits than there are days in the week, this is unfathomable to me. Yet Walker continued to live large, and it caught up to him.

He isn’t letting his losses get him down, though. In fact, losing all of his NBA wealth helped Walker get more fiscally responsible.

It’s certainly at a smaller scale — it’s harder to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars when you’re not playing a professional sport — but Walker has spent time as a broadcaster and as a consultant for other players, his own story serving as a precautionary tale for younger ballers.

Walker announced he was debt-free in August of 2013. It’s a good reminder that even when things seem at their worst, there’s always the chance to come through the other side, shining brightly.

And you know what? That’s worth doing a lil’ shimmy.

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Other Reads and Watches

Ben Cohen: The wonderful weirdness of Nikola Jokic — on and off the court

Dan Devine: Anthony Edwards Is Starting to Look Worthy of the Top Pick

Ricky O’Donnell: Is this Miles Bridges dunk the best of the year?

Harrison Faigen: This is v cute — Dennis Schroeder is paying Montrezl Harrell’s fine as a thank you for having his back

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading!


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