The Return of Cardiac Kemba

Manit Patel, Senior Staff Writer

Kemba Walker’s welcome to the world moment was in the 2011 Big East quarterfinals. With ten seconds left in the game, and the score tied up at 74, Walker received a screen, and had an advantageous matchup with the University of Pittsburgh forward Gary Mcghee. Walker went to work. He did a double stepback move, dropping Mcghee to the floor, and created two and a half feet of space between Mcghee and himself, he drained the two-pointer. It sent UConn to the Big East semifinals, pulling off the massive upset.

Behind Walker’s continuous heroics, the Huskies won the Big East championship, and stayed hot, winning the NCAA March Madness tournament all in the same season. All of the momentum and traction Walker had gained during his outstanding junior season led to him being a lottery draft choice, being selected as the ninth overall pick by Charlotte. The executives behind the selection of Walker drafted him with the hope that he could bring some magic back to a franchise desperately in need of a franchise player. 

However, the promise that Walker showed throughout his collegiate career was never truly fulfilled in his first four years in the NBA. He was labeled as a bust, and injury-prone due to the amount of time he spent off the court.

Walker averaged under 18 points per game each of those first four seasons, shot poorly from the field and the three point line.

He finally started living up to his billing in his fifth season. With career highs in points, field goal, three pointers, and free throw percentages, Walker established himself as the franchise cornerstone that season. With his rekindled brilliance, the Charlotte Hornets tried to make moves to build around him.

After four years of trades, free-agent signings, and many different starting lineups, the Hornets failed to make the playoffs for four consecutive seasons. It lead to Walker wanting to move on to a new team for the 2019-2020 season. The Hornets, in order to salvage whatever they could from Walker’s tenure with the team, agreed to a sign and trade in which the Hornets received Terry Rozier in exchange for Walker. 

This season Walker has emerged as a star and a leader in the locker room which Celtics fans and teammates alike believe that Kyrie Irving never was. The Celtics are currently second place in the Eastern Conference sporting a 17 and 5 record. Although Walker’s personal statistics have taken a slight step back, he is on the best team that he’s played with for his career, and has a chance for a championship the Hornets never gave him. He is the biggest catalyst behind Boston’s rediscovered success, and they are back on the championship map with him leading the hunt.