NBA legend and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan wanted Kemba Walker badly ahead of the draft, but the current Boston Celtic’s transition to the NBA wasn’t easy on him emotionally.
The Hornets went 7-59 during the ninth-overall pick’s rookie year (which was shortened by the lockout), and Walker’s sophomore season was much of the same, with Charlotte finishing 21-61.
All the losing was an emotional struggle for the former University of Connecticut star. Still, according to a profile by the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, some words from MJ helped him change that.
“He was depressed, man,” Walker’s cousin Kedow Walker said, via Himmelsbach. “I’m not exaggerating. He’d have real tears at the Buffalo Wild Wings table. He’d have real tears in the parking lot when we left. He’d say to me, ‘We just lost again, bro, and everybody is going out. This can’t be what this (expletive) is about.'”
Walker could recall nights where he’d go home alone and cry, and he questioned whether or not he belonged in the NBA.
Finally, he got the advice he needed to hear from MJ.
“He was like, ‘You need to be yourself. I drafted you because you’re a winner and you score,'” Walker recalled. “That was what I needed to hear.”