Video: Kemba Walker Says He Chose to Sign with Celtics for Winning Culture

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2019

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 17: Kemba Walker is introduced as a member of the Boston Celtics during a press conference at the Auerbach Center at New Balance World Headquarters on July 17, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

All-Star guard Kemba Walker said Wednesday that the opportunity to win is what drew him to the Boston Celtics in free agency.

During his introductory press conference, Walker discussed his desire to win after struggling to do so during his time with the Charlotte Hornets:

"For me, it's the competitiveness of this organization. They've been winning for years. You see all the banners upstairs and in the arena. It's a winning organization and I wanna win. That's what I'm about. During my basketball career as a pro, I haven't won consistently, and I just wanna get a taste of that. I thought this was the best place for me to do that."

Walker added that he plans to talk to Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum about what it takes to be successful in the postseason, per Celtics reporter Marc D'Amico.

Walker signed a four-year, $140.79 million contract with the Hornets this offseason as part of a sign-and-trade with the Celtics involving guard Terry Rozier.

Boston essentially brought in Walker as a replacement for Kyrie Irving, who signed with the Brooklyn Nets this offseason.

While Walker only made the playoffs twice during his eight seasons with the Hornets organization, he has developed into one of the NBA's most dynamic offensive players. The 29-year-old has been named an All-Star in each of the past three seasons, and he is coming off a 2018-19 campaign that saw him average 25.6 points, 5.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.

Boston is a far cry from Charlotte, as its 17 championships are the most in NBA history. It has reached the playoffs in each of the past five seasons and 11 of the past 12.

As much as Walker was drawn to the Celtics, the top decision-makers within the organization wanted him in the fold just as badly.

Per Jay King of The Athletic, head coach Brad Stevens believes Walker has the makeup needed to be a winner: "He has all the stuff that the best have."

According to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said he first became enamored with Walker while he was starring collegiately at UConn:

Walker won a national title in college, and he is well positioned to do plenty of winning with the Celtics as well.

Although last season was something of a disappointment with Boston bowing out in the second round of the playoffs after reaching Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals the previous year, the complexion of the Eastern Conference has changed significantly.

The Milwaukee Bucks are bringing back virtually the same team, and the jury is out on whether the Philadelphia 76ers will be better after losing Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick, signing Al Horford and retaining Tobias Harris.

Meanwhile, the Nets are likely a year away from contention as they wait for Kevin Durant to return from a torn Achilles, and the Toronto Raptors figure to take a huge step back following the loss of Kawhi Leonard.

All things considered, the Celtics have a legitimate chance to contend for a top-three spot in the East with a core that includes Walker, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and newly signed center Enes Kanter.

The Celtics also announced Kanter on Wednesday, and he revealed that Walker recruited him in free agency, per Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe"Kemba was one of the biggest reasons I came here."

Kanter explained his decision to wear No. 11 as well, which is the number Irving vacated when he signed with Brooklyn.

Kanter took a dig at Kyrie by saying he wants to be the reason nobody else wears No. 11 for the Celtics, which was a line Irving used in a commercial last year:

Boston still has some question marks, including its interior defense and whether Hayward will return to his All-Star form now that he is further removed from the gruesome leg injury that cost him essentially the entire 2017-18 season.

The talent is there, but much like last season, Stevens has to find a way to fit the pieces together in order for Boston to be a title contender.

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