Charlotte Hornets

Tim Kempton carries the name – and Whopper of a story – of a Hornets fan favorite

Lehigh’s Tim Kempton takes questions after Sunday’s pre-draft workout with the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center. Kempton’s dad, also named Tim, played for the Hornets in their inaugural 1988-89 season.
Lehigh’s Tim Kempton takes questions after Sunday’s pre-draft workout with the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center. Kempton’s dad, also named Tim, played for the Hornets in their inaugural 1988-89 season. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Tim Kempton is back in Charlotte.

No, not that Tim Kempton. Not the one who went from a sixth-round pick in 1986 to a 12-year veteran with nine NBA teams. Not the one who averaged a career-high 6.1 points in the Charlotte Hornets’ inaugural 1988-89 season. Not the one who once told teammate Kurt Rambis he could fit an entire Whopper in his mouth – and then did so on a dare.

The Charlotte Hornets worked out draft prospects at Spectum Center practice court Sunday morning. Multiple players that could be chosen with their #11 draft position attended, including 2017 NBA Draft Eligible players Bam Adebayo (in center, Kentu

No, not that one. On Sunday, it was Kempton’s son who was one of six NBA draft prospects to work out with the Hornets – a Father’s Day workout in the place where his father made his mark.

“I definitely get a reaction when my name comes about,” he said.

Legally, he’s not Tim Kempton Jr. He’s simply Tim Kempton, a four-year starter and two-time All-American honorable mention at Lehigh. He said this weekend was the first time he’d ever walked the streets of Charlotte, but this city already knows Tim Kempton, the lumbering, affable fan favorite who spent two one-season stints with the Hornets.

KemptonFatherStaffFile.jpg
Former Charlotte Hornet Tim Kempton, center, seen here in a February 1994 photo, played for the team in its inaugural 1988-89 season. Kempton’s son, also named Tim, worked out for the team Sunday ahead of the NBA draft. The Observer Staff File Photo

It’s a namesake the younger Kempton can’t escape – not that he’d want to.

“That’s just something that comes with having a father like mine …” Kempton said. “But it’s a blessing, and I don’t regret it and I don’t take it for granted.”

Fittingly, Kempton enters Thursday’s NBA draft with the same listed measurables as his namesake: 6-foot-10 and 245 pounds. And while the younger Kempton is more of a faceup forward than his dad was, he still uses the back-to-the-basket jump hook he first developed from his NBA predecessor.

Like his dad, Kempton likely won’t go in the first two rounds of the draft. But he said he was prepared for the draft process by the elder Kempton, who went through a similar experience after four years at Notre Dame.

“I kind of was able to have a workout under my belt before I even had any at all,” he said.

Kempton spent the past four years trying to make his name at Lehigh, where he graduated as the Patriot League’s all-time rebounding leader. And while his alma mater doesn’t have the cachet of his father’s, he’s still merited national recognition.

A decade ago, Kempton said some people might confuse Lehigh – a private university in Bethleham, Pa., – with a high school. But that was before the emergence of guard C.J. McCollum, who finished his career as the second-leading scorer in program history. He became the first two-time Patriot League Player of the Year from Lehigh and eventually went 10th in the 2013 NBA draft.

KemptonFatherMugFile.jpg
The older Tim Kempton once told Charlotte Hornets teammate Kurt Rambis he could fit an entire Whopper in his mouth – and then did so on a dare. Charlotte Hornets PR

Four years later, Kempton has two Patriot League Player of the Year awards to his credit and is firmly entrenched in the NBA draft circuit.

“He’s the one who put Lehigh on the map,” Kempton said of McCollum.

Now, Kempton is trying to put himself on NBA teams’ radars for more than just his namesake. After Sunday’s workout, he said he could stretch the floor and bring the same on-court intelligence and physicality that players such as Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky do with the Hornets.

If need be, Kempton could likely play internationally, as his father did for four seasons. Those are where the best stories came from, after all.

“I don’t know if I can share those with you guys,” Kempton said jokingly.

Kempton said people from Notre Dame have plenty of stories about his dad from college, and he gets a reaction whenever people hear his name.

As for the Whopper story? Kempton said his dad still brags about it. But the younger Kempton believes he could match the infamous feat.

“I’m gonna have to take him up on it,” he said, “because I probably could beat him.”

Like father, like son.

C Jackson Cowart: @CJacksonCowart

Hornets reporter Rick Bonnell breaks down what the Charotte Hornets need, and who they might take in the 2017 NBA draft.

  Comments