Even if the TNT Katropa had just ended the franchise-best winning streak of the Blackwater Elite, their import Henry Walker felt like he had just come out of a reunion, as he saw a familiar face on the sidelines of the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Back in 2008, the Boston Celtics had been coming off a championship, ending the franchise’s 22-year title drought and completing the biggest one-year turnarounds in NBA history.
And then came the NBA Draft.
Needing to fill-up their line-up that included future hall-of-famers Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, the Celtics selected JR Giddens at 30 and Turkish big man Semih Erden at 60 while trading for Walker, the 47th overall pick of the draft.
Walker played for the Celtics until 2010 and in the NBA until 2012 before deciding that playing basketball overseas would be more lucrative.
After seven years since he had last donned the green and white, the 29-year-old Walker was on the same court once again with Ray Allen — just in a different light, as the now-retired Allen was sitting in the sidelines watching the Blackwater Elite take on the TNT Katropa, Wednesday.
But Walker was not surprised to see Allen in Manila, saying that “you never know when you’re facing ‘Jesus’.”
“Wasn’t surprised [at all]. You never knew where you’re facing Jesus — Jesus Shuttlesworth,” quipped Walker pertaining to the character Allen had played in the 1998-produced film He Got Game.
“It was good to see him.”
And even all these years, Walker, who played a total of 37 games for the Celtics, credits Allen, who has become a polarizing figure in Boston, for teaching him discpline back when he was just a rookie trying to find his niche in the NBA.
“He’s a good guy. I’ve learned a lot about preparation and work ethic and getting ready to compete from Ray,” added Walker, who played for Kansas State for two years before enlisting in the draft.
“He was always a great leader, and he led by example.
“As early as when the rookies were in there, when I was in Boston, Ray’s in there too. He always started putting those bricks down. That’s something I took from him — just busting my ass everyday,” Walker shared.
For a brief moment Wednesday afternoon, the two were given the chance to talk after a technical problem occured during the game that halted play for at least 20 minutes early in the second frame.
“He was just asking about the traffic here and things like that, how long I’ve been here. I told him it’s my third time being here, and I’m like the traffic here can change your life,” Walker, who started playing in the Philippines back in 2014, disclosed about the brief conversation they had.
“Once you get back to America, there’s no traffic like Philippine traffic. If you can survive it over here, you’re pretty good.”
But if there’s one thing Walker would advise the two-time NBA Champion, it’s that he should not think of lacing up his shoes once again and play as an import in the PBA.
“It’d be bad for his health. Young guys out here play hard and play strong.”