Ex-Knick Kemba Walker explains why he shut it down last season
DALLAS — Kemba Walker knew he had to make the decision to shut it down last February, leaving the Knicks to deal with his recalcitrant knee in preparation for continuing his NBA career.
After a salary swap with Detroit this summer and a subsequent release by the Pistons, the Bronx native and former UConn star got hooked up with the Mavericks last month. Walker averaged 12.8 points in 23.8 minutes per game in his first five appearances for Dallas.
After sitting out the previous two games for knee support, he scored a point in five minutes in the Knicks’ 126-121 overtime loss to the Mavericks.
“It wasn’t that difficult, to be honest. It was a selfish decision, actually,” Walker said of his quit last season. “I was paying attention to myself. I wanted to be right. At that time, I didn’t play much at all. So it made no sense.
“To be honest, I just kept working. Working my butt off to try and get me back. Those guys called me. It’s really, really appreciated.
The four-time All-Star, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Knicks before last season, stressed he “definitely holds no hard feelings” and “no bad blood” toward the organization.
“I’m from New York. I’m always going to cheer for my team. There’s no bad blood at all,” said Walker, who scored a triple-double at the Garden for the Knicks in Christmas 2021. “It meant a lot. It was cool. Especially when they were chanting my name in the Garden. It was a super dope feeling.
“I am a New York child, born and raised. These are very good memories for me that I will remember and certainly cherish for a very long time.
Asked about Walker before the game, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said, “Listen, I love Kemba. Kemba has been a big league player for a long time. The only problem we had with Kemba was health. If Kemba is healthy, he’s a great guy and he’s a great player.