Has Kemba Walker endeared himself to his new teammates simply by being himself?
In a sense yes, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst claimed Tuesday on the Hoop Collective podcast Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown already “love” Boston’s new point guard. Walker, Brown, Tatum and Marcus Smart spent several weeks together this summer as teammates on USA Basketball’s 2019 FIBA World Cup team, and the latter trio said at various times during their adventure they were enjoying coming to know the former. Windhorst, who covered Team USA before, during and after its ill-fated journey to China, believes Tatum and Brown weren’t just paying Walker lip service.
“They love Kemba,” Windhorst said, per CBS Boston. “They love him. It’s a double-edged thing. Jaylen Brown refused to talk about the past. He was like, ‘That was then, this is now, we are artists painting a new painting.’ … They’re saying how much they like Kemba, but it’s also kind of a way saying, ‘We really didn’t like Kyrie (Irving).'”
Irving has shouldered plenty of blame for the Celtics’ disappointing 2018-19 campaign, with his leadership style being subject of much the criticism. Windhorst’s claim undoubtedly will heap more scorn on the star, who left Boston for the Brooklyn Nets this summer in free agency.
It’s also worth noting the timing of Windhorst’s report: training camp will begin next week, and this is perhaps the most optimistic moment on any NBA team’s calendar.
Nevertheless, the fact that Walker has gained favor with the three other members of “Team Shamrock,” and the likes of Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and others insisting how excited they are to play with the All-NBA point guard, only can bode well ahead of Walker’s debut season in Boston.