Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Kemba Walker Was Home

Josh Parcell
November 07, 2019 - 11:18 pm

For 100 seconds, Kemba Walker’s gaze never broke. He stared intently as the video re-living the greatest moments of his professional life played in front of a packed crowd at the Spectrum Center, the same building that served as Walker’s basketball palace for eight years.

For 100 seconds, Kemba Walker re-lived the ankle-breaking crossovers, the cirque-du-soleil finishes around the rim, the breathtaking game-winners, and of course, the moment he surpassed Dell Curry as the Hornets’ all-time leading scorer.

But before all of that, the video began in the only way a Kemba Walker tribute video could: with a compilation of Kemba’s time in the community.

A video of his $140 million smile lighting up so many of the faces of Charlotte could have lasted five minutes alone.

The most talented basketball player the Hornets have ever seen was also arguably it's most charitable. It was only right. 

Loyalty is an endangered trait in the NBA today. The shelf life of a high-profile star in any one city is rarely longer than five years.

The Hornets were fortunate in a way that Kemba was a late-bloomer.

They were able to extend his contract in 2014 at the basement-bargain price of $12 million a year before he blossomed into one of the top five point guards in the world.

So while there’s a bit of good timing that played into the timeline for Kemba’s stay in Charlotte, it doesn’t diminish the bond he built with the city in the slightest.

After all, it was against Boston last year where Kemba drained a patented clutch three-pointer, turned to the crowd and screamed: “This is MY city!”

(You better believe that shot made it into the tribute).

Kemba might have signed a contract with the Boston Celtics, but that bond with Charlotte was never severed.

The Hornets failed him. They failed to draft a supporting cast full of any hope for the future.

They failed to sign a veteran capable of lifting the Hornets past mediocrity.

The Hornets never gave Kemba Walker the team that he deserved, but he never seemed to hold that against them.

He never demanded out like many others have — take Jimmy Butler or Paul George, for instance.

He put his head down and worked relentlessly to be the best player he could be for the organization, and for that the city of Charlotte will forever love him unconditionally.

Of course, there were tears. Of course there were.

As the video came to a close and the crowd rose to its feet, Kemba bowed his head, raised his arm and waved to the crowd that hung on his every move for more than 600 games in a Charlotte uniform. He scored 14 points.

The Celtics won the game, 108-87. The game was secondary.

He might have played for the visiting team, but on Thursday night, Kemba Walker was home again.

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