Walker represents Buzz City well at All-Star
Buzz City can be proud of Kemba Walker.
Walker gave the city of Charlotte its first NBA All-Star in seven years and on Feb. 19 in New Orleans he represented the Hornets well, finishing with seven points, six assists, three rebounds and a steal for the Eastern Conference in a 192-182 loss to the Western Conference in the Big Easy.
“I had fun being out there. It’s kind of hard to describe,” said Walker. “Words can’t even describe the feeling that you have when you’re out there, but man it was really cool. Really cool.”
Walker entered the contest at the start of the second quarter and quickly got into the action, picking up an assist on an Isaiah Thomas three-pointer at the 10:43 mark. He got on the scoreboard 40 seconds later driving to the bucket for a fastbreak layup, helping to erase the nerves of playing on one of the NBA’s biggest stages by connecting on the high-percentage shot.
“That was the plan,” Walker said of starting out with a layup. “[Toronto’s] Kyle [Lowry] kept telling me that all weekend ‘Just get a layup first. Just get a layup first, because your first jump shot might be an air ball.’ I kept thinking about it like, ‘He might be right. I don’t know.’ I got a layup first and I tried to get to the outside later.”
Walker was also thrilled with the support from his All-Star teammates as a first-time honoree.
“[My teammates] were cool. This is my first one, and they all knew, obviously. But they were kind of pushing for me to get a basket early in the game,” he said. “When I scored, they were all hyped on the bench. That’s a cool feeling.”
Walker finished with two points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal off the bench in the first half, but the most noticeable thing had to be the smile that seemed to be glued on Walker’s face in his 8:15 of action in the half.
“You know me. [I was] just enjoying myself, man,” he said. “These dudes, they’re so cool and down to earth. Like I’ve been saying all weekend, we compete against each other all year but when we get this opportunity right here to kind of relax, take a break, be among each other, being amongst these guys, I couldn’t stop smiling. I still can’t. I’m probably not going to [stop smiling] for awhile.”
The Hornets captain seemed more at ease in the second half, playing all 12 minutes of the second quarter and finishing with five points, four assists and a rebound in the frame including two alley-oop lobs to Washington’s John Wall and Indiana’s Paul George, respectively.
“Oh man, I was trying to do what I could,” he said. “I wish I would have made some more shots but like I keep saying - I can’t stop saying it enough - man, I had a blast out there. I kind of wish it didn’t stop, but yeah it was cool.”
In a game where the two squads combined to score more points than any other All-Star Game in NBA history and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis scored an All-Star record 52 points, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain’s previous record of 42 set in 1962, defense was an afterthought – an odd feeling for Walker.
“Sometimes you feel like you don’t want to do too much [on defense] in a game like this,” laughed Walker. “Nobody was getting back. It’s cool. I know [Hornets Head Coach Steve] Clifford would kill me for that one, but it’s cool.”
The only regret Walker seemed to have was not being able to take the court with all five guards on the Eastern Squad – Walker, Wall, Thomas, Lowry and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving – as was often talked about by the players, coaches and media during All-Star Weekend.
“That would have been cool. I wish we did. I wish we did,” he said. “It was cool just playing with all those dudes out there. We had a blast.”
Overall, it was a successful weekend and soild showing for the Hornets in New Orleans starting with Frank Kaminsky’s 33 points in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, continuing with Walker’s third-place finish in the JBL 3-Point Shootout and culminating with what Hornets fans everywhere are hoping was just the first of many of Walker’s All-Star performances.
“[All-Star Weekend] was unbelievable. It was unbelievable, man. It’s a really surreal feeling,” he said. “You got all the top players in the NBA. You got entertainers around. It’s everything. Everything’s here and to be a part of it, to be center stage, I would never think I would be a part of something like this. Man, it was really cool.”