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Kemba Walker on All-Star Status: 'It's Pretty Surreal, Honestly'

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2019

Kemba Walker (15) gestures after making a 3-point basket against the Sacramento Kings during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Three consecutive All-Star selections has established Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker as one of the best basketball players in the world, and that's something he still has a hard time wrapping his head around.

"Sometimes I can't believe it," Walker told Sports Illustrated's Kaelen Jones. "There's times where I'm on the bench thinking about that kind of stuff, like I can't even believe I'm here, man. It's pretty surreal, honestly."

Walker put the basketball world on notice in 2011 by leading the Connecticut Huskies to a national championship. Being in Charlotte for eight years has limited his NBA exposure to some degree, but he's been on top of his game this season (24.9 PPG, 5.6 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.3 SPG).

He has also almost single-handedly carried the Hornets to the seventh seed in the East with 25 games to go.

"I'm a better player right now than I've ever been; definitely [better] than I could ever have imagined," Walker said. "I never would have thought that I'd become this type of player today."

But he didn't just luck into his success.

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"I've come a very long way, especially from my young career," Walker added. "From not always being the best guy on the team to just increasing my work ethic every single year, every single summer. Just seeing the hard work pay off, I think that's what's most gratifying for me."

Walker will be a free agent this summer, and while teams around the league would line up to pay him big money, the Hornets' all-time leading scorer said this in September 2018: "You see guys who are on elite teams. I don't want to do that. I want to create something special here in Charlotte, something that we have never had here before. I want to create some consistency. And I want to be a part of that."

With All-Star Weekend being held in Charlotte, Walker will be at the center of attention. He told Jones he is "super excited" to be a part of a "special" weekend for the Hornets franchise.

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