Kemba Walker made the strongest of impressions on Jeff Van Gundy.
The former NBA head coach and offered a glowing praise of the Boston Celtics point guard Sunday on SiriusXM NBA Radio. Van Gundy and Walker worked together for around six weeks over the summer on the U.S. men’s national basketball team, with the former serving as an assistant coach and the latter leading Team USA on the court during the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Despite the team’s disappointing seventh place finish, Walker struck Van Gundy as one of the finest characters he has come across in nearly three decades as an NBA coach and commentator.
“I got to deal with Kemba Walker this summer with the USA Basketball (FIBA) World Cup team,” Van Gundy said. “And I’ll tell you, you can’t be a better combination of a great player and an absolutely superior human being. He is exceptional as a teammate, his coachability is off the chart, he’s all about the team.
“… To me Kemba Walker because he has been in Charlotte and they haven’t had playoff success where they go deep, so many of our fans probably don’t know how good he is as a player. But even more is just what an exceptional person, leader, teammate he is.”
Hear NBA Weekend Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7-10 am ET. pic.twitter.com/xRmNFeR6Mp
— SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) November 10, 2019
Van Gundy’s rave review of Walker is the latest in a string of acclaim the first-year Celtic has received in recent months, following positive words from current and former coaches and teammates alike. Although Van Gundy’s comments come two-plus months after Team USA’s ill-fated World Cup journey ended, he still speaks of Walker as if they were working together just days ago.
Walker has enjoyed an excellent start to his Celtics career. He’s averaging 25 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists and has helped Boston earn an NBA best 8-1 record to start the season. He hit a season-high eight 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 29 points Monday night in the Celtics’ win over the Dallas Mavericks, with the only blemish being a minor neck injury he suffered near the end of the contest.
These developments almost certainly will make Van Gundy proud.
Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images