The point guard has the ball after practice and the basket is in front of him. A teammate yells; a challenge maybe. So Kemba Walker soars for the dunk.
Four inches higher and he probably makes it.
Now the teammates really yell.
I can dunk, Walker says.
In a game?
Twice this season, he says.
Dallas, I think. And I think New Orleans, Walker says.
Walker has better footwork than any Bobcat Ive seen. He can handle the ball, but footwork is what distinguishes him. Is he going left, right, backward or forward? Rarely is there a hint.
Walker leads Charlotte in scoring (17.9 points a game), assists (6.0) and steals (1.8).
It almost would be unfair if he played above the rim, too.
Would you say Walker plays above the rim?
I would say no, says rookie Jeff Taylor.
But he can dunk, right?
Depends on the day, says guard Gerald Henderson. If he gets a running start and he ate his Wheaties, he might have a chance.
Walker ever dunk on you?
Oh (blank) no, says Henderson, who is 6-foot-5. He aint no taller than you.
Whoa, now. Im the same height as Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith. Walker is listed at 6-1.
If the Bobcats need a last-second dunk Wednesday night against Utah at Time Warner Cable Arena, Walker will not be called upon.
But if they need a basket, theyll choose him.
Sunday at Detroit, Walker could not make a fourth-quarter shot, but he could get them. He has been able to get his shot since he showed up last season out of Connecticut. But he missed six straight. Andre Drummond, 6-10 and also from Connecticut, blocked the seventh.
Yet when the Bobcats needed a basket on their final possession, they went to their point guard.
I want him to play through the tough times as well, and be our scorer and be our finisher at the end of the game, says coach Mike Dunlap. If you said what options, No. 1, do we have, everybody in the league would know this its Kemba coming out of a timeout. I want him to be the first option and obviously a Ben Gordon is right there level with him so that the defense cant lock in on just one guy.
With about 10 seconds remaining and Charlotte down by two points on the road, Walker worked against 6-3 Brandon Knight.
Walker went left and right and backward and regrouped and went left and dazzlingly right, and was in the lane.
As quick as he is, Walker was in no hurry. He calmly went into the air earlier than he had when Drummond blocked his previous shot and lofted the ball high. It dropped beautifully through the basket.
Tyrus Thomas scored six points and Walker four during overtime and the Bobcats won by seven.
How do you float the ball over a man a foot taller?
I dont know, says Walker. Man, its just something you just do. Just in the flow of the game.
It would be simpler to take off from the lane and slam the ball over Drummond.
I wish, says Walker.
Hes modest about his exploits in the air. He has dunked three times this season Nov. 9 and Dec. 29 against New Orleans and Nov. 10 against Dallas.
I could have had more, Walker says.
But you didnt want to show off.
Yeah, he says.