New York Knicks star Kemba Walker is savoring his homecoming so far.
The veteran point guard had 19 points and five assists as the Knicks beat the Philadelphia 76ers 112-99 on Tuesday. After the game, he told TNT's Allie LaForce suiting up for the home team inside Madison Square Garden "has always been a dream."
New York blitzed Philly in the second quarter and dropped 39 points to take firm control of the contest. Walker had a big hand in the outburst, going 4-of-4 from the field and scoring 10 points. He talked about how he envisioned how it would feel to experience the reaction he garnered from the MSG fans during that run:
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"I was waiting for that moment. It was a kind of moment I've dreamed of when I was a young kid wanting to be in the NBA watching the Knicks play. Coming to a Knicks game and seeing how the crowd goes crazy" - Kemba Walker on his 4 straight shots in the 2nd quarter <a href="https://t.co/QNDuzx0i2s">pic.twitter.com/QNDuzx0i2s</a>
Stars spurning the Knicks in free agency wasn't a new development when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets. But nobody had been as blunt as Durant when he said in 2019 that "the cool thing right now is not the Knicks."
The narrative began turning around a bit with New York's return to the postseason, even if the team lost to the Atlanta Hawks in five games in the first round.
Walker, a native of the Bronx, can be a particularly useful totem in reestablishing the Knicks as a marquee destination again.
"It's meaningful because of the fact he's from here," head coach Tom Thibodeau said to ESPN's Tim Bontemps. "Who Kemba is as a person I think is reflective of the city. Basketball is really important to this city and the Knicks are really important, and I think Kemba embodies what that is all about."
Even if Walker returns to the peak form he enjoyed with the Charlotte Hornets, the Knicks almost certainly aren't winning a title this year. But that's not really the point.
This period is about laying the groundwork for the future and providing the fanbase with a reason to be excited again. While it's still early into the new season, Walker and his teammates are doing just that.