Knicks' Kemba Walker taking benching like a pro: 'I'm a team guy first'

·2 min read
Kemba Walker pointing ahead classic white uniform no opponent
Kemba Walker pointing ahead classic white uniform no opponent

It's been four games since Kemba Walker was taken out of Tom Thibodeau's rotation with the Knicks, and the veteran point guard spoke to the media for the first time since it happened.

Walker seemed to take the news in stride, even though he admitted it came as a shock.

"I mean, yeah. Anybody would've been," Walker told reporters when asked if he was surprised to learn Alec Burks would be taking over the starting point guard role from him.

"I mean, it was tough obviously, because I'm a competitor. I love to play basketball, I love to be on the court. And this is the first time it's happened to me in my career pretty much on any level. But, at the end of the day, I'm a pro. I have respect for Coach Thibs and for the decision he made. It might not be an easy one, but it was a choice that he made and I have no choice but to live with it."

It was, of course, a hard decision for Thibodeau to make. Walker was supposed to upgrade the Knicks' point guard position this season, especially from a shooting standpoint. However, his defense, which was always suspect before landing on Thibs' roster, wasn't helping him keep his spot along with his lack of production.

So he made the hard choice, but appreciates Walker for taking it professionally.

“Kemba’s not going to change. His career speaks for itself," Thibodeau said.

"I've always been a team guy first," Walker added. "It's not about me, it's about the team. If he feels that 's going to make the team better, then so be it."

Walker could always find himself back in the rotation as Thibodeau and his staff will do whatever it takes to win games. There was speculation, however, that the Knicks would try to trade Walker before the NBA deadline. Since the deadline is in February, a lot can happen between then and now.

"I could be pissed. I could be upset. But at the end of the day, there are some young guys here who look up to me," Walker said. "Pretty sure they wanted to see how I reacted to the situation. Anybody on my team down the line can be in the same situation and maybe I could be a role model in that aspect. Like I said, it was tough for me.

"But at the end of the day, it's not about me. I'm a team guy first, always been."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting