BOSTON (CBS) – Kemba Walker detailed why he chose to sign with the Celtics, citing his desire to win as the top reason.
“It’s a winning organization. I want to win. That’s what I’m about,” Walker said. “Throughout my basketball career as a pro, I haven’t won consistently. I just want to get a taste of that.”
The Celtics introduced Walker, their biggest offseason acquisition, during a press conference along with newly signed center Enes Kanter on Wednesday.
Walker said he’s excited to make a return to New England, where he played for UConn in college. Walker said whenever he played in Boston as an NBA visitor, he came across fans wearing his college jersey.
“They don’t boo me much,” Walker joked. “I’m super excited to be back to not only get a chance to play in front of the Boston fans, but the UConn fans as well.”
Walker will wear jersey No. 8, the jersey number previously worn by Antoine Walker.
“It was hard. There’s no numbers available. Every number is retired,” Walker said when asked why he chose No. 8, adding that the 8th is his birthday. “It’s cool to wear Antoine Walker’s number. I spoke to him. He gave me the blessing as well. So I’m excited.”
Walker, 29, has spent his entire career with Charlotte after the then-Bobcats drafted him ninth overall back in 2011. He’s coming off a career year in 2018-19, when he averaged 25.6 points, 5.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds while playing all 82 games. In his eight-year career, he’s averaged 19.8 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game.
The 6-foot-1 point guard has been an All-Star for three straight seasons, and he made the All-NBA Third Team in 2019. Prior to his NBA career, he led the UConn Huskies to a national championship in 2011.
Kanter said when free agency opened, his phone rang showing Ainge’s number. But it wasn’t the president of basketball operations on the line – it was Walker using Ainge’s phone.
“After free agency, he called me actually. Kemba was one of the biggest reasons I came here. That shows what kind of leader he is,” Kanter said.
Since agreeing to join the Celtics, Kanter has already shown the kind of personality he has on social media. He exchanged barbs with an FS1 host who called the team’s offseason a disaster.
Ainge, however, noted that he won’t be following his new center on Twitter.
“I won’t be following him on social media. I don’t have enough time in the day,” Ainge laughed.