Kemba Walker Reacts To First Win With Hometown Knicks

Kemba Walker, New York Knicks, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

Madison Square Garden was electric for the New York Knicks 2021-22 NBA season opener against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

The MSG crowd is always a raucous one, but they had a little extra juice for this one facing off against a rival and being the official homecoming for New York City legend, Kemba Walker.

Walker has been lighting up Madison Square Garden going back to his high school days, as the Bronx native played at Harlem’s Rice High School and attended Connecticut for college. MSG was his personal playground collegiately as he had plenty of memorable performances there.

Now, he gets to play there consistently as the starting point guard for the Knicks. It’s not every day that a hometown kid gets to suit up for the hometown team, but it was a dream that Walker saw come true Wednesday with his mother in attendance.

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“So much was running through my mind,” said Walker, who flashed an “X” for his home borough, The Bronx, as he came out onto the court to a raucous ovation. “Just really couldn’t believe it. Really just playing for the home team.

“I’m really a kid from the Bronx, born and raised in this city. To put that jersey on for the first time, for the real regular season, and being announced, man … it was definitely an amazing feeling.”

What made the night even better was that the New York Knicks won Kemba Walker’s debut at Madison Square Garden. The team getting the win is what is important, but Walker didn’t have the best game of his career by any means.

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He had a few timely 3-pointers, ultimately finishing the game with 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and one steal in 36 minutes. He had four turnovers in the game, the last two of which almost cost New York the game.

He had turnovers on back-to-back plays near the end of regulation that were inexcusable. They allowed the Celtics to get back into the game and push it into overtime.

“I was disappointed,” Walker said when asked how he felt about his play late in regulation. “I was disappointed in myself a little bit. It was a little bit of a mental mistake on my behalf. It happens.

“I’ve done a lot of crazy, not smart things in my career. That was definitely one of them. But it happens. You’ve got to find a way to stick together. You got to find a way to come out on top, and that’s what we did.”

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Walker was certainly picked up by his teammates in the overtime periods, especially Evan Fournier. Fournier also left the Celtics this offseason for the New York Knicks and scored a career-high-tying 32 points in his debut.

Fournier had a mistake of his own at the end of regulation on the Boston Celtics’ game-tying play but made up for it in overtime. He and Kemba Walker have to be happy that the team was able to overcome it and get a victory in their Garden debuts.