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.
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The Maine Red Claws were in action at home at the Portland Expo Center on Saturday night hosting the Delaware Blue Coats, taking a 128-123 loss to fall to 7-4 and fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Tacko Fall wasn’t in action, but Bryce Brown was simply furious, leading all scorers with 43 points 15 of 17 from the floor overall and a franchise single-game record 11 of 11 three-pointers. Tremont Waters was terrific, too, with 18 points and 11 assists.
Brown, an undrafted free agent who helped lead Auburn to its first Final Four appearance last spring, was simply unconscious for the Claws. He shot a perfect 11 of 11 from three-point range to give him an absurd effective field goal percentage of 1.2 for the game.
Waters, the Connecticut native, was crafty in his distribution, with just four turnovers to go with his 11 assists.
Yante Maten (18 points), Vincent Poirier (18) and Justin Bibbs (10) also scored in double-figures for the Red Claws.
The Red Claws return to action Friday in Des Moines, Iowa to face the Iowa Wolves, with tipoff at 8 p.m. ET.
Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.
Anytime is a good time to watch highlights of the greatness that was Larry Bird playing for the Celtics.
But on Larry Legend's 63rd birthday? It's time to break out the best of No. 33...
The fight with Dr. J in 1984:
The 60-point game against the Hawks in '85:
The steal against Isiah Thomas and the Pistons in '87:
The "you are watching was greatness is all about" duel with Dominique Wilkins in '88:
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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.