As much as I love the NBA, I can’t fathom watching the All-Star game in its entirety. It’s like watching a player’s highlights on YouTube. Didn’t we just see this on the other end of the court?
But I enjoyed watching Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets. When the Hornets selected Walker with the ninth pick in the 2011 draft, he shot like a guy who learned the game on New York City playgrounds. He could go to the hoop, and he was fearless. But he couldn’t shoot. The wind will change your shot more effectively than a taller defender, which is the reason so many New York players can’t shoot from distance.
So Walker learned. I’ve seen him in the Hornets’ practice gym during the season and training camp, and at his off-season basketball camp. Walker will go to a coach, or merely to himself, and ask what he needs to do to improve. Then he goes out and does it.
Some of the early criticism of Walker was uninformed. Passing is such an underrated quality. But to whom, on those early Bobcat teams, was Walker going to pass? Who wanted the ball? Who could hit the shot? Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson were gone.
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In the three-point contest Saturday, Walker finished third. He’s best under pressure, which is good because he had to go first.
Walker played 20 All-Star game minutes Sunday and scored seven points and kicked in six assists. Cool to see him there. If you’ve met him, you know that he’s a fine emissary for his team and our city.