BOSTON -- Kemba Walker on most days is a jovial, happy-go-lucky kind of guy.
But the sight of seeing his former UConn coach Jim Calhoun … that has a way of bringing out an even wider ear-to-ear grin from the Boston Celtics star.
Calhoun was among the coaches at the Celtics practice facility watching the team’s practice, an all too common occurrence this time of year.
But seeing Calhoun, the former Huskies coach whose team won a national title with Walker leading the way in 2011, made Wednesday’s practice one Walker was eager to get through.
“I found out last night he was coming in,” Walker told NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely. “I was pretty excited to see him.”
During practice, Walker acknowledged on more than one occasion, he would look up above the court at the cluster of coaches and see Calhoun staring back.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him,” Walker said. “It’s a real joy to see him.”
And the admiration and love go both ways.
Calhoun, who now coaches Division III St. Joseph’s in West Hartford, Conn., told reporters on Wednesday that he and Walker have talked often since the eight-year veteran left UConn after his junior season and became a lottery (top-14) pick when the Charlotte Hornets selected him with the ninth overall selection in 2011.
Those conversations included talks this summer when Walker, a free agent at the time, was weighing his options as far as whether to play elsewhere or return to Charlotte.
Calhoun served as a sounding board for Walker, with both acknowledging that the decision as to what Walker would do would ultimately his and his alone to make.
During their conversations, Calhoun said there was one theme that was the lone constant in their discussions.
“I’m at that point in my career, God’s been good and I’ve made money but I want to win,” Calhoun recalled Walker saying. “He’s here to win. That’s his whole goal; it’s to win.
Calhoun added, “He’s as special as anybody I’ve had in the sense of leadership, caring and has incredible confidence and humility.”
In a separate sit-down interview with Walker, he echoed similar sentiments about what his goal is as a Celtic.
And seeing his former coach only adds more fuel to that desire to win, something Walker and Calhoun did quite a bit of when the two were with the UConn Huskies.
“We’ve been through so much together,” Walker said. “He’s one of the reasons why I am who I am today. He taught me so much as a basketball player but more importantly as a person. So he’s … that’s my guy right there. I have so much respect for him.”
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