MIAMI — Anthony Walker plays in the NFL. He spent the last month in the NBA.
The Indianapolis Colts linebacker started his offseason by spending four weeks as an intern with the Miami Heat, getting a crash course on how the basketball team from his hometown handles things from a business operations standpoint. The Heat exposed Walker to plenty, including how game nights work and the execution of off-site events.
“For me, it’s about trying to get the other side of sports,” Walker said . “Football’s going to end for me at some point. I want to be able to use the networks I have now to help me in the future for when I do need to find something else to do with my life. And you never know when that’s going to come.”
The internship ended Friday. Walker is planning to be back in Indianapolis, ready to resume full-time football life in a few days.
He hopes football doesn’t end anytime soon. Walker just completed his rookie season with the Colts, appearing in 10 games — two starts — and making 22 tackles.
But Walker, 22, is also thinking about his future. That’s why he asked Heat assistant coach Chris Quinn for a favor.
Quinn was briefly an assistant coach at Northwestern, where Walker — who studied business management with a focus on sports, as well as marketing — played his college football. Quinn knew of Walker’s reputation from their simultaneous time with the Wildcats, and didn’t hesitate when asked to help broker something for him to do with the Heat.
“I knew he was a high-quality kid,” Quinn said. “Anyone in his position, a current NFL player, to reach out and request an opportunity, that means he’s very driven and about the right kind of stuff. So I had no problem trying to help him in any way I could.”
Quinn passed Walker’s name up the Heat chain, and the internship deal was struck. Walker knows the experience will help him in his next career, but also sees ways it will make him better as a player.
“You see all the aspects of the game and all the outside stuff that we don’t get to see as athletes,” Walker said. “We think we do our job and everything else just falls in place. But there’s a lot that goes into those other jobs, marketing, the equipment guys, all that stuff. You can’t take any of that for granted.”
In the end, both Walker and the Heat considered his time there a success.
“He did a really good job,” Quinn said. “He took everything really seriously, which is awesome.”