I think it was Florida Celts Fan over at Loy's Place who first compared Bill Walker to Leon Powe. I'll admit, I haven't given much love to Billy Boy. But this is only because it pisses me off that I haven't been able to see JR Giddens play. I know, I know. The two should have nothing to do with each other. Well, here is some belated love for Billy, courtesy of Mark Murphy (By the way, where is the youtube video???).
Nothing irritates a veteran big man more than getting bumped and hassled by a younger, smaller player. Such was the case Wednesday night in Miami, where 6-foot-6 rookie Bill Walker of the Celtics was pressed into action at power forward due to manpower issues and started boxing out Jermaine O'Neal.
The Heat's 6-11 veteran was so ticked off he shoved Walker against the support padding, drawing a technical foul. C's forward Leon Powe, another undersized type not shy about laying muscle on bigger players, looked on like a proud father.
``I like seeing my young fella in there fighting to get O'Neal off the block,'' Powe said. ``It's good to see him (tick) somebody off like that.''Powe, after all, already has been there many times in his young career. It even could be said Walker is a slightly younger, smaller version of him.
``Yeah, he's like me,'' Powe said. ``We always fight. We always scrap.''This also is known as wringing every last drop out of an opportunity. With the injured Kevin Garnett and Brian Scalabrine on the shelf, the Celtics have a large need for frontcourt help.
Michael Beasley, the Heat rookie who played with Walker for a year at Kansas State, said earlier in the day that his former teammate's value would eventually reveal itself.``It's been hard for him, but people are going to see that he's a great player,'' Beasley said. ``Bill is what, 6-5 or 6-6 and 240 pounds, but he moves like he's 215 and he jumps like he's 195.
``Once everyone sees what he can do, they'll see that he's really special. He suffered with two knee surgeries, and that's a tough thing for someone to deal with, but he fights through it. I ask him, `Man, you don't wear knee braces or anything when you're out there.' But he says, `No way, I just want to go out there and enjoy it.' ''
Rest assured, Walker drew significant joy from the scowl on O'Neal's face despite Wednesday's loss. ``Those big guys get a little agitated when you try to box them out of the paint,'' Walker said. ``I know I'm doing my job when he has to push back like that. I'm not a weak guy, either, so I know he must have felt it.''
Doc Rivers even paid Walker one of his favorite compliments when he referred to him as a ``defensive irritant.'' ``Billy Walker was phenomenal,'' the Celtics coach said. ``I thought he played with great energy and showed a lot of toughness, which is what we really need from him, and I thought he did that. ``We are asking him to play a position he hasn't played all year, and he did a hell of a job. He got under some people's skin, and that's what we want him to be. Be an irritant, be an instigator out there, and Billy is doing that.''
If Rivers had asked Walker to play center, or even point guard, the rookie's response clearly would have been the same.``I just play basketball - I don't think of myself as having a set position,'' Walker said. ``It's not my job or role to do anything any other way. I just go out, D-up and rebound.'' And if he's lucky, someone from the other side will get angry enough to push back. Just so everyone knows that Walker is doing his job.
Truth be told, I want another wing who can make an impact this year. Sounds like Bruce Bowen will be on the shelf and teamless until February. Hopefully, Doc will give Billy Boy the chance to make signing Bowen unnecessary.
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