CHARLOTTE, N.C. — "This was an extremely tough decision, and I hope people on both sides will take that the right way."
That's how Kemba Walker explained the decision to leave the Charlotte Hornets, the only NBA team he's ever known, in free agency to sign with the Boston Celtics this offseason. Walker penned a thank you to Charlotte's organization, community and fans for The Players' Tribune Monday, sharing how much the Hornets meant to his development as a player.
Walker admitted he's not the biggest buy, the flashiest, or even the loudest. He wrote those qualities, or lack thereof, led to people doubting him his whole life. But that all changed when he got the call from Michael Jordan in 2011.
"He called me up...and of course I recognized his voice instantly. (I remember thinking, even in that moment, you know, like — Damn. It's MIKE)," Walker wrote.
The three-time NBA All-Star went on to praise Hornets fans and Charlotte for letting him be a part of the community during his eight years with the Hornets and shared a fun story about a local family he's become friends with after meeting them at a game when he was a rookie.
During an interview with ESPN's Scott Van Pelt Sunday, Walker confirmed he'd be signing with the Celtics. The deal is reportedly for four years and worth around $140 million. It's less money than what the Hornets could offer Walker, but at this stage in his career, Walker says he wants to make a deep playoff run. That's something Charlotte wasn't able to accomplish with Walker.
But don't think he'll forget where his career started.
"This place is special. And while this summer was the right time for me to part ways, and move on to another phase in my career — it’s taking nothing away from the Hornets as a fan base or as a franchise," Walker wrote.
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