Kemba Walker told the reporters yesterday during his introduction in Boston that he received blessings from the former Celtics’ star Antoine Walker.
The most significant addition to the Celtics’ roster this summer revealed that he already spoke with one of the former players, stressing out the fact about wearing the same number as the old Walker.
“It’s cool to wear Antoine Walker’s number,” stated Kemba at the press. “I spoke to him. He gave me the blessing as well. So I’m excited.”
The newbie among the Celtics had a problem to find a suitable number because the majority of them are already retired because of Boston’s rich history. In the end, no.8 was ok for him, as his birthday is on the 8th of May.
Antoine Walker was playing for the Celtics between 1996 and 2003, earning three invitations to the All-Star, bringing back the most successful franchise on top after a long time. Paul Pierce and he led the team to the Eastern Conference finals where they lost against the New Jersey Nets in six matches.
Kemba Walker explains why he chose No. 8 and Antoine Walker giving him the “blessing” to wear his old number.
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) July 17, 2019
Number 8 is appearing in one other situation also. That is how many seasons he played for Charlotte Hornets before arriving at Massachusets. He decided to sign with Boston even though his salary here is lower than it might have been if he stayed in North Carolina. He mentioned that Michael Jordan and the Hornets helped him develop in the best possible way and that he cherishes everything MJ did for him.
“I’ll forever love him because of the opportunity he gave me,” said Kemba. “He allowed me to play through mistakes, allowed me as a person, as a man. I love that dude, that’s my guy, we have a great relationship.”
Kemba signed a four-year $141 million contract and came to replace Kyrie Irving whose stint at TD Garden was marked as a failure. What was projected to be the generation who could even create a dynasty was, in fact, a very very poor crew with bad chemistry.
Irving decided to jump to Brooklyn, and Celtics’ management picked Walker as the perfect guy to replace him. When asked why he accepted Danny Ainge’s offer, the 29-year-old stated that Boston’s history played a crucial role in his decision. He wanted to be in an organization with a winning mentality, and who wants to compete for the championship.
“For me, it’s the competitiveness of this organization, they’ve been winning for years,” Walker said. “You can see all the banners upstairs and in the arena. It’s a winning organization, and I want to win - that’s what I’m about.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) July 17, 2019
That is something he didn’t have in Charlotte. Despite all the attempts of the organization to create a respectable team which could create some noticeable result, the Hornets stayed a mediocre team, which depended solely on Walker’s game. He was alpha and omega of the crew, which earned him three straight All-Stars in the recent years and the All-NBA third team.
The 2019 season was the best in his career. Walker played all 82 matches averaging 25.6 points, 5.9 assists and 4.4 boards and 1.2 steals per game, all that in 34.9 minutes. However, there wasn’t proper support for him, and the playoffs were out of reach for Charlotte.
Meanwhile, the Celtics were in the playoffs but eliminated much earlier than they planned. Brad Stevens reached a very tough situation, and instead of making plans for winning the championship, he has to partially rebuild the squad to be competitive.
Besides Kyrie, one other big name left Celtics, and that is Al Horford. Enes Kanter will try to fill in his spot.
We’ll see whether is this duo good enough to change things in Boston.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.