After eight seasons with the Hornets that saw him take the franchise lead in career points, 3-pointers and minutes played, Kemba Walker returned to Charlotte on Thursday for the first time since leaving in a sign-and-trade to Boston Celtics.
Walker was greeted with a rousing introduction from the Hornets’ public address announcer and a standing ovation from an appreciative Charlotte crowd.
Walker’s warm feelings for Charlotte
Walker said at a shootaround Thursday morning before the game that he expected an overwhelmingly positive response.
"Nothing but positive things, I hope," Walker said. "I don't think I did anything wrong. ... I think it should be all positive reactions.
"It's going to be great. It's going to be great. It's going to be a great feeling, and like I said, I'm looking forward to it.”
His welcome in the Queen City didn’t disappoint, prompting tears from the longtime Hornet and Bobcat.
LOVE.— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) November 8, 2019
Charlotte's warm welcome brought Kemba to tears 🥺pic.twitter.com/4AzwmuQTwK
He finished the night with 14 points and six assists in a 108-87 Celtics win.
“It was an amazing night, amazing day,” Walker told TNT’s Allie LaForce. “A lot of love from the fans and organization. Just good to be back.
“I told myself I wasn’t gonna cry, but I couldn’t hold it in.”
Walker’s time in Charlotte came to a disappointing end as the franchise was never able to build around its All-Star guard to develop a contender. When the Hornets declined to give Walker a max contract, it signaled the end of an era.
But he and the city clearly made a lasting connection.
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