Kemba Walker’s leadership style left a lasting impression on Jim Calhoun.
The former University of Connecticut head men’s basketball coach and current University of Saint Joseph head coach hailed the Boston Celtics point guard as a “special” leader Wednesday during his visit to Celtics training camp. Calhoun, under whom Walker played between 2008 and 2011, believes Walker’s rare mix of personality traits makes him one of the best leaders he has seen in his storied coaching career.
“I’ve coached 50 years,” Calhoun said, per The Athletic’s Jay King. “I’ve had 30 NBA players who played at least four years. He’s as special as anybody I’ve ever had in the sense of leadership, caring. And he has incredible confidence with humility, which is a really hard thing to have.”
Walker is entering his first season with the Celtics, having joined the team last summer from the Charlotte Hornets via sign-and-trade. He is expected to help fill the void Kyrie Irving’s departure to the Brooklyn Nets in free agency created.
Walker told reporters Monday at the team’s media day he hopes to bring “veteran leadership” to the squad and create “great chemistry” among his new teammates. Boston’s leading players already have taken to Walker, having spent time with him in recent months either on the U.S. men’s national basketball team or at the Celtics’ training facility.
If anyone is surprised by how quickly Walker has established himself as someone to follow in Boston, Calhoun isn’t one of them.