For the chosen few who count themselves as both UConn AND Boston fans, today was a special treat. In a press conference at TD Bank Garden, the Husky legend was introduced as the newest member of the Boston Celtics. With his mom, fan favorite Andrea Walker, in attendance, holding up a No. 8 jersey (shoutout Antoine Walker), Walker dished on UConn, New England, and his winning mentality.
A lot of it should sound familiar to Husky fans, and a breath of fresh air for Celtics fans.
On why he chose Boston: “Throughout my basketball career I’ve won, but I haven’t been able to do that as consistently as a pro. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life (leaving Charlotte). My time was up there. It’s time to start a new chapter. The transition is easier, because I know the area a little bit.”
On head coach Brad Stevens’ coaching style: “His point guards are successful. They score a lot. He watches tons of film. I only got to play against him, so we still have a lot to learn from each other. Nothing is more important to me than a relationship with the head coach.”
On his leadership style: “I’m not a ‘rah-rah’ guy. If I have something to say, I’ll say it. You have to talk to guys in different ways, depending on the situation; let things flow. I won’t scream at anybody. Throughout my career all the teams I’ve been on have been together on and off the court.”
During media sessions, he apparently he had this to say:
Kemba Walker on with @NBCSBoston says he fully intends to spend all season reminding Brad Stevens UConn beat Butler in the national championship game. #Celtics— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) July 17, 2019
Big man Enes Kanter, also being introduced by the Celtics, on Kemba and his leadership: “Kemba was one of the biggest reasons I came here. He called me during free agency on Danny Ainge’s phone. He said, ‘Hey, how we doing, big man?’ That was special to me.”
Brad Stevens: ”I’ve been a fan of Kemba for a long time. I remember watching him on the AAU circuit. I remember those New York Gauchos AAU teams well. And obviously, I saw him too close and personal when he was at UConn.” [Editors Note: UConn defeated Butler in the 2011 National Championship, which was actually a really good basketball game. You just don’t respect good defense.]
Celtics GM Danny Ainge: “I fell in love with Kemba at the Maui Invitational his junior year, where the whole world realized how good he was. I was sitting there front row watching.”
Lastly, the New Haven Register’s David Borges got to fire out a Husky-centric question, asking if this felt like a homecoming of sorts. Walker replied:
“Oh yea. Coming here to play and you’re warming up, you see a bunch of UConn jerseys in the crowd. And I always got a good ovation. I’m super excited to be back. Not only get a chance to play in front of Boston fans, but UConn fans. And a chance to see Coach Calhoun more. I’m excited.”
"It's crazy."— UConn Huskies (@UConnHuskies) July 17, 2019
Good to have you back in New England, @KembaWalker! ☘️#UConnBred | #HuskiesForever pic.twitter.com/BYrJ6WUvcM