June 25th, 1996
Poised with his team's highest draft choice in 10 years, Celtics coach and director of basketball operations M.L. Carr selected Kentucky sophomore sensation Antoine Walker last night with the sixth pick in the NBA draft.
Carr, announcing the Celtics' selection at the World Trade Center in Boston, drew heavy applause from fans at the gathering when he stepped to the podium and tabbed Walker, a multidimensional forward who helped lead the Wildcats to the NCAA title last season. Walker, listed at 6-foot-8, measured 6-10 at the Chicago predraft camp two weeks ago, an added incentive for Carr to put him in a Celtics' uniform.
"Obviously, Antoine was the man we wanted in that spot," said Carr, whose deal that sent center Eric Montross and the No. 9 pick to Dallas last week enabled the Celtics to move up three spots in the first round. "This young man has ballhandling skills, he defends, he can take the ball to the basket and in my opinion he's the best-passing big man to come around in a while.
"He's the entire package."
Said Walker, who was at NBA draft headquarters at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J.: "I'm very, very happy. This is a great opportunity for me. Hopefully, I can bring a lot of good things to the Celtics."
The Celtics are counting on that. The selection ended a busy week for Carr, who was still entertaining offers for the No. 6 position moments before he called Walker's name. The Celtics had also explored moving up in the draft, presumably to select UMass All-American and national player of the year Marcus Camby, who was tabbed by the Toronto Raptors with the No. 2 pick.
There was a strong push to pursue Camby by some within the Celtics hierarchy, but insiders claim team president Red Auerbach told team officials he wouldn't trade Walker for Camby straight up. End of discussion.
After taking Kentucky sophomore forward Antoine Walker with their first pick (the sixth overall), the Celtics ' braintrust rolled up their sleeves at about 10:30 p.m. and began to seriously deliberate their next pick.
Then, two minutes after the Denver Nuggets selected North Carolina guard Jeff McInnis, Celtics general manager/ coach M.L. Carr approached the podium and again dipped into the Southeastern Conference when the Celtics picked Tennessee center Steve Hamer with their second-round pick (38th overall) in last night's NBA draft.