BOSTON (CBS) — When the Celtics needed a new point guard to lead their franchise last summer, they turned to Kemba Walker, who was coming off a nine-year run as the face of the Hornets in Charlotte.
Fast forward to this summer. When the Patriots needed a new quarterback to lead their franchise, they turned to another star from Carolina who had been the face of its franchise to the past nine years: Cam Newton.
For Walker, it is quite the coincidence.
“When I heard the news, it’s just crazy that both of us came the same year. We both spent the same amount of time and then came to Boston. It’s insane to me,” he told Boston reporters on a Wednesday Zoom call. “But new beginnings and fans here are going to love him a lot.”
Newton is looking to put an injury-plagued season behind him, playing in just two games for the Panthers in 2019 due to a foot injury. He had to settle for a one-year, prove-it-to-us deal with New England, and will now look to beat out Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer as the man to replace the departed Tom Brady.
Walker’s move to Boston was a little different. He signed a max deal with the Celtics last summer after Kyrie Irving skipped town for the Brooklyn Nets. While there are questions around what Newton has left due to his health, there were no doubts that Walker would be a fit with the Celtics. He went out and averaged 21.2 points and 4.9 assists per game in his first season, while also giving Boston a much-needed vocal leader — and all around great guy — for the locker room. Now he’s poised to go do something he was never able to do in Charlotte: Lead his team on a deep postseason run.
Walker said that he and Newton first met because they were represented by the same shoe company when they made their jump to the pros. They got to know each other during their time in Charlotte, and now Kemba can’t wait to see what Newton can do in a Patriots uniform.
He hopes to get that opportunity in person sometime in 2020.
“Hopefully when the world opens back up, I hope to get out to a game and support him,” Walker said Wednesday.