With marquee names like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Kevin Durant all not part of the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker said he appreciates being the centerpiece of Team USA in the international meet.
The fans coming to these games know it and they get excited when they see Walker. When he crosses over an opponent or knocks him off balance with his array of hesitation moves, which he did several times in Team USA’s 88-67 win over the Czech Republic, they react like it was Kobe Bryant or LeBron James in the building.
“This is something I’ve been looking forward to being a part of for a long time. It’s special to be a part of this team,” Walker said. “I’ve been a part of USA Basketball for years, I was on a couple Select Teams where I didn’t get this far. I appreciate it.”
Walker has never been part of the United States senior men’s national team prior to this year, although he had been a member of the 2008 U18 squad which won silver in the FIBA U18 Americas Championship in Argentina.
The 6-foot-1 Walker finally had his chance under head coach Gregg Popovich when most big names in the NBA didn’t join the competition.
Walker added per Windhorst:
“It’s always good to have respect from opposing teams, especially in FIBA basketball,” Walker said. “I’m just a kid from New York, from the Bronx. It’s a great feeling to have fans all around the world for me.”
Team USA currently has a 2-0 record in the group stages as they’ve beaten both Czech Republic and Turkey.
They will wind up their 1st round against Japan as they continue shooting for their 3rd consecutive World Cup gold medal.