For as many success stories we hear about in the NBA, there are probably double that number in castoffs. Guys that made it to the league only to discover they really weren’t cut out for the pros.
Antoine Wright played for four NBA teams in six seasons. His last team was the Sacramento Kings where he signed a one-year deal last summer. By November he was waived. Wright spent the rest of the season playing overseas in China and is now trying to work his way back into the NBA.
During his time in the league, Antoine was never known for his sunny disposition or stellar work ethic. That aside, he says what happened in Sacramento wasn’t his fault and that the Kings organization doesn’t prepare its players properly:
“My rift, really, with the organization was that I don’t think they prepared the guys enough to win basketball games,” Wright said. “We were probably the only team in the NBA that didn’t have a scouting report. How do you expect a young team to go out and carry a game plan? Every team I’ve been on, they give you a scouting report on every guy on the team, a couple paragraphs about each guy before you go out there and play against him.
“Coming on the court before the game was chaos — no structure whatsoever, and we kind of had a laid-back coach. Westphal was pretty laid back, and with a group of young guys, you’ve got to have somebody who comes in and disciplines them.”
“I’m not going to throw any of their players under the bus, but one of the main players who was a big part of our team, his attitude was really, really bad — I’m pretty sure you can figure out who that guy is,” he said before confirming that he was speaking of then-rookie forward-center DeMarcus Cousins. “Tyreke [Evans] had a pretty good attitude. His work ethic wasn’t great, but he’s a good young player. I believed in him completely. I just don’t think the coaches did enough to prepare us to win games.”
Oh that’s not all he had to say, he also says the reason he was waived from the team had to do with an incident between his mom and Kings Assistant coach and former NBA player, Mario Elie:
“Mario Elie. I’ll say his name because I had a history with him. We had just lost a game. It was over the holiday, Thanksgiving holiday, and my mother was in town and in the [team] family room [at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento]. She came up to Mario Elie, and said, ‘I’m Antoine Wright’s mom. Can I have a picture with you?’ My mom is a fan of the game, a big fan of Mario Elie, and he said, ‘No, I’m with my family.’
“We’re a team now, so I came into practice [the next day] and told everybody, I said, ‘When we go into film, I’m just going to put Mario on blast.’ So I walk in last, and I come in through the front and Mario is in the back, and I said, ‘Man, you know what? That’s foul what you did to my mom. All she wanted was a picture. Everybody in this room would have took a picture with your mom if she asked, or anybody else’s mom in this room. That’s probably why we don’t have any team chemistry.’
“The next day [Kings officials] came in and were like, ‘Uh, this is not really working for you. It’s not working for us. No hard feelings. We wish you the best.’ I said, ‘Thanks for the opportunity, and I’m gone.’ “