By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Danny Ainge and the Celtics were ‘pretty late’ to point guard Kemba Walker’s free agency process, but it didn’t take long for both sides to realize what they could do for one another.
“I mean, I think I knew [I wanted to join the Celtics] kind of fast,” Walker said in a sitdown with Toucher & Rich at Celtics Media Day. “It just was… perfect. The perfect fit; the spot was open at my position, it’s the Boston Celtics, all about winning, and that’s what I wanted to be a part of. I can’t say it enough. That’s just what I wanted to be a part of. I want to be part of a winning culture. And this organization has that, so it was kind of an easy decision.”
And it was a decision helped by some fortunate timing for the Ainge and the Celtics, too, as the 29-year-old Walker was in France with now-teammate Jayson Tatum when the Celtics came calling.
“I just knew. I was actually out in Paris, me and Jayson [Tatum]. Once I kind of started to get the feeling of coming to Boston, and once I kind of knew that I wasn’t gonna be returning to Charlotte and needed to focus on other teams, I got a chance to speak with [Tatum],” Walker admitted. “And we spoke for about an hour, just me and him. He told me about the guys, the coach, the city, and I think he just got me excited about everything.
“[Tatum] was a big impact on my decision as well.”
As for what Walker was stepping into, leaving the cozy life in Charlotte seclusion for the bright lights of Boston as Kyrie Irving’s replacement, Walker said he needed no convincing from either Ainge or any of his potential teammates.
“I already knew,” Walker said about playing in front of the TD Garden crowd. “There wasn’t much to say [about the fans]. From my perspective? The best. It’s the best. It’s loud. You don’t have to worry about creating energy by yourself.
“The fans create the energy in that building. That’s been every single time I’ve ever played [in Boston].”
Walker also noted that he’s happy that he’s one of the few players Boston fans never booed, attributing that to his time with UConn, which included a national championship for the Huskies (and over Brad Stevens’ Butler squad) in 2011.
It was a collegiate run that left Walker feeling himself.
So much so that he tried extending his skillset into the rap game on a mixtape with DJ Skee, as unearthed by Rich.
“That was the year I was coming into the Draft. I won a championship, so I was kind of on Cloud Nine and my agent was seeing DJ Skee,” Walker said of the ‘EZ Pass’ mixtape dropped (and buried somewhere on the Internet). “They kinda had a relationship, and he asked me if I wanted to be part of it. I mean I love music, so me and him, we came up, he asked me some of my favorite artist and things like that. It was a pretty cool experience.”
“None of my teammates actually ever brought that up,” Walker noted. “I don’t think a lot of people [had] seen it.”
(For the record, it’s probably infinitely better than Kyrie’s song released as part of “Uncle Drew.“)
One thing you will not find on the Internet (and Walker confirmed that right away) is video evidence of his hip-hop dance performances at Showtime At The Apollo as a young teenager.
“It’s crazy because being from New York, Showtime At The Apollo is like something, like wow, that’s like The Garden for basketball players,” Walker said of the experience. “But if you’re a dancer or an entertainer, Showtime At The Apollo where all the legendary artists have performed, so to get the opportunity to perform there is mind-blowing.
“I was definitely super-nervous.”
Probably more so than playing in front of Celtic fans, it’d seem.