When the Celtics open the season Wednesday night there will be not one, but two familiar faces on the opposing sideline -- Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier.
Both signed with the Knicks in the offseason and both will be in the starting lineup to square off against their former team.
I made the trip to the Westchester, New York, to check in on our old friends. And, as you’d imagine, I had a lot of questions for Kemba. Here is our conversation and a couple of other highlights from his session with the media Tuesday afternoon.
Why didn’t it work in Boston?
“I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s a question for me, to be honest. Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t think it had anything to do with my basketball skills. I think it was more my health. But yeah, I don’t know if that’s really a question for me.”
Were you surprised by the trade to Oklahoma City?
“I wasn’t expecting to get traded. I’ve never been expected to be traded from a team, especially just because of the person I am and the kind of teammate I am, but obviously it’s not about that. It’s about what you bring to the table, and I wasn’t there all the time on the court. So obviously, that was an issue. So, I guess that’s why it didn’t work.”
What are your thoughts on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown now as pillars of the Celtics franchise?
“I mean, even when I was there, it was that way. As it should have been. Two young talents that are just trending upwards. They’ve gotten better from day one when I was there to now. They deserve every single thing that’s coming their way. Like I said, they work so hard on the court, Jaylen and Jayson. Two very special young men on and off the court with great parents. They deserve everything. I’m super proud of them and I’m happy to say that I got the opportunity to play with those guys. Yeah man, they’re just special guys. I’ll never forget those guys and how they treated me throughout my time there.”
So, how is the knee?
“I’m feeling really good, feeling really good. I’ve been available. I’ve been here. I’ve been here all practices. I’ve been able to play in all the preseason games. They rested me for the one. But as far as back-to-backs, just trying to take it game by game just depending on how I’m feeling, but it’s not like I’m not playing back to backs. That’s not my thought process. My thought process is to be available when I can be, and I’m doing everything in my power to stay healthy and do what I can to be on that court, because that’s where I want to be.”
And now, you face off against the Celtics on Opening Night. Does that matter to you?
“Does it matter? Of course. It’s my old team. Yeah, it matters. But I don’t go into any game thinking I want to lose, you know? So, I definitely want to win. Does it make it that much better that it’s my old team? Yeah, no question.”