By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Kemba Walker’s decision to leave the Hornets, the only team the New York native had known in his eight-year NBA career, for a max contract with the Celtics came down to one thing: Winning.
In a city, and for an organization, known for just that.
“They’ve been winning for years,” Walker, who was formally introduced to the media at the Red Auerbach Center on Wednesday, said of the Celtics. “You 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 throughout my basketball career. As a pro, I haven’t won consistently and I just want to get a taste of that. And I thought this was the best place for me to do that.”
Winning in Charlotte proved to be borderline impossible for the 29-year-old Walker, as the Hornets made the playoffs just two times during the guard’s time in Charlotte, losing to the Heat in the first round each time (they were smoked in four games the first time around, and lost in seven games the next time).
Not even Walker’s career-year, with 25.6 points per game (10th-best in the NBA), could propel the Hornets this past season, as Charlotte finished as the East’s ninth-best team, at 39-43.
It was a definite change from Walker’s collegiate career at UConn, which ended with two straight runs to the NCAA Final Four, and finished with a national championship win over Brad Stevens and Butler in 2011.
Now, he joins a Celtics team that’s made it to the second round (at least) in three straight seasons. And with the talent — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will take on more prominent roles in 2019-20 with Kyrie Irving and Al Horford out of the picture — that’s positioned the Green to continue to win at least a few rounds in a relatively wide-open Eastern Conference.
“I’m happy I made this decision,” Walker said. “The people around here are super cool, it’s a lot of love.
“I definitely made the right choice.”