It is 2 p.m. on a gray Friday in Boise, Idaho, and Antoine Walker isn't answering the door to his apartment.
He lives south of the city, in a generic complex of drab buildings where men take the trash out in their pajamas, old women walk small dogs in slow circles and a newsletter admonishes residents to "PLEASE dispose of cigarette butts properly."
After a second knock on the door, and a two-minute wait, there is the sound of movement in the ground-floor, two-bedroom apartment, outside of which two yellowed phone books are stacked like ancient, withered paperweights. Finally, the door opens a crack, but whoever opened it retreats quickly to one of the bedrooms.
The air is thick with the smell of smoke. The blinds are drawn. A lighter sits on the coffee table, next to a giant jug of Crystal Geyser water. Unlit incense sticks are nearby. On the TV a game of NBA 2K12 is paused in the second quarter—the Pacers versus the Spurs. There is a large box of Cheez-Its on the floor and bagged-up cartons of Kentucky Fried Chicken in the corner. Boxes of Corn Pops and Cap'n Crunch line the top of the refrigerator.
In five hours Walker will take the court for the Idaho Stampede of the NBA's Developmental League. For now he has agreed to talk about how and why he came to be here—a three-time All-Star living in a $915-a-month apartment he shares with reserve guard Chris Davis, and playing for a salary of less than $25,000. He has no car, subsists mainly on cold cuts and fast food and plays in front of crowds as small as 155.
After five minutes, Walker emerges from the bedroom, dressed in a T-shirt and sweats, his eyes hazy. He turns off the video game, plops down on the couch and begins to speak.