Can Knicks’ Kemba Walker Live Up to the Stamp He Earned From Michael Jordan Back in 2019?

Published 08/19/2021, 2:25 PM EDT
CANTON MA. – SEPTEMBER 30: Kemba Walker smiles during an interview at the Boston Celtics Media Day on September 30, 2019 in Canton, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald) ( Photo by Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)


In an offseason move that many have dubbed the perfect match for both Walker and New York’s favorite basketball team, Kemba is a NY Knick! Following 2 injury-plagued seasons in Boston, GM Brad Stevens called time on Walker’s career at the Garden, orchestrating a trade to Oklahoma City.

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A buyout and FA signing later, Walker will now don the Knickerbockers colors in 2021-22. And while everyone continues to doubt the all-star point guard, he has a staunch fan in Michael Jordan!

Famously renowned as the ‘Crossover Killer, the Step-back Master or the Praying Mantis’ Kemba has ridden through injury-marred seasons of late.

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While most experts have counted him out, ESPN legend Stephen A. Smith, also a diehard Knicks fan has shown him love based on a conversation he once had with his Airness himself.

Michael Jordan shows Kemba Walker the love

On Wednesday’s debate on First Take on ESPN, analyst Stephen A. Smith recalled a conversation with MJ from 2019. Following Kemba’s departure to Boston, Smith commented on a phone call he got from Jordan himself.

Smith said – “When Kemba Walker departed from Charlotte in 2019, to go to Boston, I got a call on my phone. The call rang and it was Michael Jordan.”

He then narrated the conversation saying – “Michael Jordan called cuz he wanted to make sure that everybody in the basketball world knew that even though he was losing his best player, a guy that had went 4 consecutive seasons averaging better than 20 a game, a couple of seasons averaging 23.9 25.2 that kind of stuff.”

“MJ wanted everybody to know that even though the brother could play, it was nothing compared to the person Kemba Walker was and obviously is. He loves the kid.”

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A compliment like that from MJ paints a picture of what could have been if Walker managed to remain healthy for the entirety of an NBA season. But, as a person, as a teammate, defined by his work ethic, as to what even Tatum and Jaylen Brown will agree to, Walker is one of the most genuine players in the NBA.

May 25, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker (8) drives to the basket against Brooklyn Nets power forward Kevin Durant (7) and power forward Blake Griffin (2) and point guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the first quarter of game two of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Walker’s Legacy

How will Walker’s legacy go down? Expected to be the starting PG in New York, what can Walker add to Thibodeau’s offensive arsenal? While working in tandem with Derrick Rose and playing at Madison Square Garden has its own perks, Walker is growing restless in pining for a championship.

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How far will the recent additions of Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier in combination with reigning MIP Julius Randle, and a defensive-minded coach in Tom Thibodeau take New York this season?

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Amongst others, fans like Stephen A. and Spike Lee look insanely optimistic. But, in the NBA, one can never tell!

WATCH THIS STORY: New York Knicks and Other NBA Teams That Have Made Blunders with Jerseys Over the Years

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Nikhil Naik

170 articles

Nikhil Naik is an NBA writer at EssentialySports. Having completed his bachelor's degree in Hospitality, he has worked with the Indian Hotels Company Limited, at the Taj in Mumbai. Nikhil has been playing basketball since 2014.

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