Whatever cast a pall over Boston Celtics basketball last season, it is safe to say it was not Kyrie Irving, who has taken his fair share of ire in the press for his role in the team’s dysfunction during his tenure with the Celtics.
And while it may also have had something to do with the state of UConn product Kemba Walker‘s knee, it is also likely safe to say that Walker himself was not a primary cause — even if the hyper-competitive point guard may have been unhappy with having to sit as much as he did in order to protect said balky knee.
Asked about the funk that lingered into his short tenure with the team by ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Bronx native couldn’t — or perhaps wouldn’t — put his finger on it.
“I have no idea, man,” said Walker. “I can’t really answer that — I don’t know.”
“I feel like I am the absolute most positive person there can be. I come in with a great attitude all the time. I’m always smiling, I’m always uplifting, and my time there was great … I had great teammates. I talk to those teammates all the time to this day.”
Plenty of ink speculating on what might be the cause has already been spilled, so we don’t pretend to offer anything new, but neither does the former Connecticut standout.
Walker also implied the trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the start of the 2021 NBA offseason took him by surprise despite his cousin refuting a rumor he’d asked for such a change of scenery nine days before it went down.
“To be honest, I didn’t know that I was going to be traded. I’ve even seen stuff like that we (the Celtics and himself) had a mutual agreement on the trade. I’d seen something like people from my camp, and I don’t know, man. I am who I am, and that’s where I wanted to be, because that’s where I was.”
“I never wanted to be a guy who got traded, that’s not something I was even thinking about,” added Walker.
One can take Walker — who has made something of a brand for himself with his loyalty to the Charlotte Hornets and his teammates over the years — at face value, and there is no harm (especially at this point) in doing so.
It is certainly possible this was an out-of-the-blue move by the team not communicated to Walker via his management through a former coach — Brad Stevens — turned team president who thought he needed to move quickly.
Perhaps too quickly to wait for the back-and-forth what seemed like a strong relationship between the two would require to remain such.
It is tempting to look at that denied report as evidence of a failed power play perhaps to get Walker on the court, or possibly a successful one to get the former Husky to a new team, with these sorts of responses carefully crafted responses to protect the NCAA champion’s brand.
We’ll take him at his word, even if there’s plenty of plausible deniability one may parse from his comments.