Every now and then I like to point out people who are the antithesis of a role model, those players who do everything wrong. I’ve discussed players with gambling addiction, players who throw temper tantrums, players who sue the casino after losing, players who cheat, players who steal to fund their blackjack bankroll and more. Today I want to discuss Antoine Walker.
Walker played 13 seasons in the NBA and made $110 million over that time, not including endorsement contracts like he had with adidas. Now not only is he broke, he is in dept and facing felony charges of fraud for writing bad checks to Las Vegas casinos.
Walker was a talented player who had his best years with the Boston Celtics, but it seems that the only thing he enjoyed more than hoisting up a three-pointer was wasting his money. Even by NBA standards, Walker’s extravagance is the stuff of legend. Even today, in all of the trouble he is facing, which includes possible jail time and a debt in the millions, he doesn’t seem to get it.
Walker seems remorseful about squandering his vast fortune, but still doesn’t seem to understand. In an interview with ESPN, he said that he thought spending all of that money was his “calling” and that his “job is to give back.” By giving back, he doesn’t mean donating to charity or helping in the community. Instead, he means taking his wife and teammates to fancy dinners, buying his family and friends (and himself) collections of Hummers, Bentleys and Benzes, and buying himself and his family luxurious mansions.
He also loved to gamble, spending “a couple thousand dollars a hand playing blackjack.” His gambling problems seem to come from hanging out with Michael Jordan in 2001, who was a known high-stakes gambler and also happened to be one of the greatest players in NBA history. As someone Walker looked up to, Jordan would hit the blackjack tables and bet thousands on each hand. If he lost, no big deal. After all, it’s only money.
Betting that much money on blackjack, of course, is stupid. You don’t need to bet high to have fun. The amount of the wagers, though, isn’t the biggest problem. That came when Walker established a credit line and began betting with money he didn’t actually have on him at the time. I have cautioned against that time and time again. It is too easy to lose track on how much you’re spending. Eventually, Walker was betting money he didn’t even have in an account and when he needed more, he wrote checks to the casinos. Of course, if you write someone a check knowing there’s no money in your account to cover it, that is not only stupid, it’s also a crime.
As a result of his poor decisions, Antoine Walker, the man who was once one of the most popular players in Beantown, is now facing a court battle over his debts, a different court battle over fraud, a different court battle over child support and a court battle over property he owns in Chicago (turns out he’s not a great landlord, either). So let me say this as clearly as I can: Do not be like Antoine Walker. Use your finances wisely at all times, especially at the blackjack table.