No one would have blamed Kemba Walker for despising the Boston Celtics as a kid.
After all, Walker hails from the Bronx and once played a high school game at Madison Square Garden, home of the rival New York Knicks.
But in an interview with NBC Sports Boston's Brian Scalabrine before his return to Charlotte on Thursday night, Walker insisted he never hated the NBA team to the Northeast.
"I didn't hate the Celtics. I just love basketball," Walker told Scalabrine. "The history of this organization is special. So many unbelievable players have played here and have so many championships."
In fact, Boston's unparalleled basketball tradition -- 17 NBA championships and 22 retired numbers -- combined with its current standing as a contender was a big part of what lured Walker from Boston to Charlotte.
"Each and every year they're in the playoffs and have high expectations," Walker told Scalabrine. "That's the kind of organization I want to be a part of.
"I want to go into the season thinking we're going to be one of the best teams. That's what it's about. I want to compete at the highest level, and I just felt like this place was going to give me that opportunity."
Check out Walker's full sit-down with Scalabrine in the video player above.
Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Hornets, which tips off Thursday at 7 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.