Celtics Star Kemba Walker Opens up on Sacrifices That Shaped His Career

Published 12/02/2020, 8:30 AM EST
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)


Boston Celtics star Kemba Walker is arguably one of the best college players of this decade. He led an unfancied UConn team to the NCAA title in 2011, after not even qualifying a year before.

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Recently he featured in a Players Tribune interview, where he spoke about his junior year at UConn.

“My sophomore season, we didn’t have a great year. I just felt like I had to get better (so) I decided to stay on campus all summer. I made that sacrifice because I love basketball. And that’s what prepared me to have a breakout year, my junior year. That season was kind of like a roller coaster ride. We weren’t ranked at all coming into the season (so) we took it as motivation.”

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The Huskies weren’t in the Top 25 of the preseason AP Poll. They had failed to qualify for the tournament in 2010, so no one expected them to do any better.

Kemba Walker says that game-winner got him drafted

The Huskies ended their regular season with back-to-back losses. So, heading into the tournament, they had to improve. They started with big wins against DePaul and Georgetown, where Walker showed out. After that, they were up against the mighty Pittsburgh.

“Everybody is talking about us and saying there’s no way that we can win this game,” Walker said. “Pittsburgh was having a great year, and they were a top-five team. I got the chance to get the last shot.”

“I rose up and as I’m in the air, it was just me and the basket. A routine shot that I shot every single day working out. I knocked it down, probably one of the biggest shots of my career. That’s kind of what everybody knows me for now, and that’s what got me drafted as well.”

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With scores tied at 74-74, Walker attempted one of the filthiest step-backs of all-time. He sent the defender into another dimension as he buried the game-winner. The Huskies defeated the Panthers and qualified for the next round.

Thus began their fairytale run to the NCAA title. This run included wins against San Diego State, Arizona, and Kentucky. Walker was the star of the show, as the Huskies won their third NCAA title. He established himself as one of the best college players with that run.

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Aaron Mathew

1655 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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