Brian Scalabrine

Kemba Walker explains why he never hated Celtics (despite his area code)

Kemba Walker explains why he never hated Celtics (despite his area code)

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.

Brian Scalabrine breaks down the difference between Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker

Brian Scalabrine breaks down the difference between Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker

NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers starts at 6:30pm Wednesday with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30pm.

The Boston Celtics are one of the most different-looking teams in a changed NBA landscape. And one of the biggest changes they underwent came at point guard.

The Celtics lost Kyrie Irving to free agency two seasons after acquiring him in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving left the team amid rumors of discord in the locker room and joined the Brooklyn Nets.

To replace Irving, the Celtics signed Kemba Walker. Walker was considered to be the best player available after Irving on the free-agent point guard market. He made the All-Star team with the Charlotte Hornets multiple times and averaged 25.6 points per game in his final season with the team.

The transition away from Irving won't be seamless, but it will be an interesting one. As NBC Sports Boston's Brian Scalabrine outlined in the network's NBA preview show, Irving and Walker play differently and while Irving may be the better player, Walker may fit the Celtics better.

Kyrie's probably a better player. He's bigger. He can get to the basket. But in Boston, they're thinking now with Kyrie gone, the rest of the guys are able to shine. So Kemba Walker, in which he doesn't say anything bad about anybody, now, he comes in and allows Jaylen Brown to do his thing. He allows Jayson Tatum to do his thing. Kemba Walker -- high volume pick and roll player in Charlotte -- Brad is using him mostly off the ball. You see plays like that coming through dribble handoffs.

It's going to be really interesting the way that coach uses Kemba Walker. It's going to be very different than the way they used Kyrie Irving.

Scalabrine and Philadelphia 76ers insider Marc Jackson would also go on to discuss the Celtics' loss of Al Horford and how his departure hurts the C's but helps the 76ers. Watch the segment in full via the video above or click here to see the whole thing.

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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.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Season preview; breaking down the opener vs. 76ers

Celtics Talk Podcast: Season preview; breaking down the opener vs. 76ers

Our crew that covers the Celtics has you covered as we preview the season and look ahead to Wednesday's opener in Philly against the Sixers.

2:00 - Kyle Draper, Chris Forsberg, A. Sherrod Blakely, and Brian Scalabrine give their expectations for the Boston Celtics this season. 

6:00 - How big of a year is this for Jaylen Brown? What do we see happening with his contract? 

9:00 - What expectations do we have for Jayson Tatum?

12:00 - What level can we expect Gordon Hayward to return to?

14:00 - Abby Chin hosts ‘Rookie Watch’. Where our crew debates which rookie will have the biggest impact for the Celtics this season. 

19:30 - Paul Hudrick covers the Sixers for NBC Sports Philadelphia. He joins the crew to preview the Celtics-76ers opening night matchup. (21:00) How does Al Horford fit into the mix with the 76ers? (22:00) How much pressure is on Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid? (27:00) How do people in Philadelphia feel about the Boston Celtics this season?

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