Samaki Walker at the White House in 2002.
February 25, 1976 |
|Listed height||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)|
|Listed weight||250 lb (113 kg)|
|High school||Eastmoor (Columbus, Ohio)
Whitehall-Yearling (Whitehall, Ohio)
|NBA draft||1996 / Round: 1 / Pick: 9th overall|
|Selected by the Dallas Mavericks|
|Number||52, 55, 5|
|1999–2001||San Antonio Spurs|
|2001–2003||Los Angeles Lakers|
|2007||Santa Barbara Breakers|
|2009–2010||Seoul SK Knights|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Samaki Ijuma Walker (born February 25, 1976) is an American retired professional basketball power forward and center. Walker played college basketball at the University of Louisville and was drafted in 1996 by the Dallas Mavericks, where he played until 1999. Walker continued to play for the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs (1999–2001), Los Angeles Lakers (2001–2003), Miami Heat (2003–2004), Washington Wizards (2004–2005), and Indiana Pacers (2005–2006). Afterwards, Walker played in various international and minor leagues.
Wearing an all-white suit with matching fedora, the 6' 9" power forward was selected ninth overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1996 NBA Draft out of Louisville. Walker became the youngest-ever Maverick to appear in a regular season game. He would go on to post career highs in points and rebounds with 8.9 points and 7.4 rebounds a game during the 1997-1998 season for Dallas. In the summer of 1999, Walker signed with the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. He played two years with the team as a reserve.
Los Angeles Lakers
In the summer of 2001, Walker signed as a free agent with the two time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, who needed a power forward following the departure of veteran Horace Grant. Walker started in 63 of 69 games, averaging 6.7 points per game and 7.0 rebounds for the season, and stepped in for superstar Shaquille O'Neal when injured. He recorded a season high 18 points to go with 10 rebounds in a Christmas Day win against the Philadelphia 76ers. On February 19, 2002, Walker entered the injured list because of a hyperextended elbow.
Walker would only start in 5 of the Lakers 19 playoff games, as clutch forward Robert Horry stepped in to help the Lakers reach the NBA Finals. In Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals on May 26, 2002, Walker made a 3-pointer at the end of halftime; by then the Sacramento Kings led over the Lakers 65-51. Although the shot counted, television replays showed Walker had released the ball after the buzzer went off. The Lakers won the game 100-99 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Horry that tied the series at 2. The Lakers then won the series in 7 to advance to the Finals. Walker's shot influenced the NBA's decision to institute instant replay for review the following season.
The Lakers reached the NBA Finals, defeating the New Jersey Nets in 4 games to win their third straight championship and give Walker his first and only championship ring. The following year, Walker started in just 39 of 67 games as the Lakers made the playoffs but lost to the Spurs in the conference semifinals.
Remaining NBA career and international play
In Swahili, "Samaki" means "fish" and "ljuma" means "beautiful river". Walker has two children: son Dibaji and daughter Sakima. After his 17-year-old nephew Deandre Hillman died from cardiac arrest in 2001, Walker joined the non-profit organization Start-A-Heart, which provides automated external defibrillators to schools and other public facilities. He spent the 2006-07 season forming Life Choices Foundation, a nonprofit aiming to keep youth in inner-city Los Angeles out of trouble.
- "Samaki Walker Bio". NBA. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- Walker picks U of L
- "HEAT Sign Free Agent Forward Samaki Walker". Miami Heat. August 1, 2003. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- Springer, Steve (February 20, 2002). "Walker Is Put on Injured List". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- Moore, David Leon (May 27, 2002). "Horry's buzzer-beater saves day for Lakers". USA Today. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
- Broussard, Chris (July 30, 2002). "N.B.A. Will Use Replay To Review Buzzer Shots". The New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
- Wells, Mike (October 17, 2005). "Walker Changes His Ways". Indianapolis Star. Archived from the original on undated. Check date values in:
- "Bucks sign Samaki Walker". Milwaukee Bucks. September 25, 2007. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- "Samaki Walker". Pressiona. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- Yoon, Chul (October 14, 2009). "Hoops Fans Unite: KBL Returns Today". The Korea Times. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- Kang, Seung-woo; Yoon, Chul (January 12, 2010). "Knights Release Samaki Walker". The Korea Times. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- Brown, Tim (December 13, 2001). "Death Hit Walker Hard". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
- "Samaki Walker". Angel Athletes Management. Retrieved March 3, 2011.