Kemba to face former team for the first time as a Celtic

For the first time since the offseason headliner for the Celtics when Kemba Walker arrived in Boston via sign and trade, Kemba returns to Spectrum Center to face the Charlotte Hornets, the team that drafted him ninth overall in the 2011 NBA draft.

For Boston, Kemba has been everything the franchise had hoped for in their new acquisition. A superstar, a leader, and an unselfish personality. Meanwhile, Charlotte lost the face of their franchise. In eight seasons for the franchise owned by Michael Jordan, Walker played playoff basketball in two different seasons, was an all-star three times, was third in the NBA in minutes played last season, and left the franchise as their all-time leading scorer.

(Photo: Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports)
The return tonight is bound to be loaded with emotion, for Kemba and the fans. Expect a long tribute, expect cheers when Kemba steps on the floor, touches the ball, and leaves the arena. Expect recognition of the heart, tears, and blood he put into the game every time he stepped on the floor in Charlotte.

From Boston’s perspective, expect this game to provide added motivation for Kemba for the rest of the season. When he reached out to the fans of Charlotte and Boston via The Players’ Tribune, he laid the groundwork for this night. A low-key personality as Kemba speaking on the change was a glimpse at what he brings over and what the Hornets will miss. Kemba is in the city of champions to keep promises, set standards, and carve a path of winning.
I’m a winner. I’ve always been a winner. It’s who I am — or at least who I strive to be — anytime I step foot on the court. And when I think about my future with this team, and how I’m now going to be playing for the Celtics….. I mean, that’s why I feel like it’s a match made in heaven. I want to win here, badly — and I’m excited to prove myself as that type of player in this league. I want to elevate myself into that Boston winning tradition. I want to get this team back on top.

(Photo: ESPN/YouTube)

On the other benches, this will also be the first time old friend Terry Rozier faces the team that drafted him. Don’t underestimate the recognition Scary Terry will indubitably receive from Boston fans in attendance, after he made himself a name in the playoffs. Terry’s time to visit Boston and get his own tribute will come on December 22 when the Hornets visit TD Garden for the first time this season.

The Celtics look to continue their winning ways on the road tonight and stay atop the Eastern Conference by extending their winning streak to six games. Tipoff is at 8 PM but expect the night to feel a little longer than usual.

Follow the author at @AhaanRungta and read more here.