CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Kemba Walker is considered one of the greatest players in Charlotte Hornets history, with a number of franchise records to back it up.
Along with being Charlotte’s all-time leading scorer, he ranks first in franchise history in field goals, minutes played, three-point field goals and free throws. He ranks second in assists and third in games played.
So there’s no surprise if many die-hard Hornets fans may be teary-eyed after reading his farewell letter to the city of Charlotte.
After eight long seasons with the Hornets, and his best season to date, the three-time NBA All Star is moving on to the next phase of his NBA career with the Boston Celtics.
Early Monday morning, Kemba tweeted his letter with The Players’ Tribune titled “Boston, Let’s Do This” and in the tweet, the words “This was tough."
When the news broke Saturday afternoon, it was the the first big free agency announcement of the summer, and it started with the beloved “Cardiac” Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets. Kemba was headed to the Boston Celtics.
In an interview with Scott Van Pelt from ESPN, Kemba said the choice to leave Charlotte was “one of the toughest things I’ve definitely had to do in my career.”
“I gave that city, I gave that organization every single thing I could possibly give them,” Kemba said.
In his letter, Kemba wrote genuine words of love and appreciation for the people of Charlotte and Hornets fans.
“I owe Charlotte everything, man. Everything,” Kemba wrote.
Kemba speaks on his relationship with Micheal Jordan and how Jordan expressing confidence in him had a major impact on his career.
Kemba says Jordan told him “We believe you, and we expect great things.”
“Man, I’m not exaggerating when I say that those words from MJ changed my life,” Kemba wrote.
Kemba says besides Micheal Jordan, the city of Charlotte believed him in a way that stuck with him throughout his time in the Queen City.
“And then it wasn’t even just MJ. From day one, for real — the entire Hornets organization, they believed in me. The entire city of Charlotte believed in me. The entire state,” Kemba wrote.
Kemba Walker is much more than just a basketball player, and has earned the respect of his peers. Among other accolades, Kemba won the NBA Sportsmanship of the Year award two years in a row.
And in Charlotte, he showed the community who he was as a person, a role model and a leader.
Kemba has donated money to build new basketball courts for the community, spent one-on-one time coaching kids to perfect their game, and has given food to those who would otherwise go hungry.
When speaking about Charlotte in his letter, Kemba expresses the love he felt every year of his career here.
“So a place like that….. when they take you in as one of their own? And they believe in you, and they always have your back, no matter what? That means everything,” Kemba wrote. “And I just wanted to say thank you to them. Thank you for letting me be a member of this COMMUNITY.”
Kemba speaks in-depth about the Hornets fans, as he mentions, by name, a couple who he says went to almost every home game and who he had dinner with once a year since his rookie season.
“I met them during my rookie year, and we got to talking….. and pretty soon we became good friends, and we’d talk at games all the time,” Kemba wrote.
He speaks on his mentees, four young people, and says he will be their mentor for life.
“From our trips to Dave & Buster’s, to going school-supply shopping, to even just chopping it up about life. If I’m hanging with them, it’s putting a smile on my face,” Kemba wrote.
Kemba writes to his teammates who he shares a special bond with. He mentions several teammates that he was able to connect with, not just from the past season, but over his entire Hornets career.
Rick Bonnell from the Charlotte Observer said Kemba had a group chat with the Hornets’ young players over the weekend.
In his letter, Kemba even addresses the shortcomings that the Hornets have experienced over the years, through multiple subpar seasons, but overall being proud of his team.
“But even if we fell short of some of our goals — that doesn’t change how proud I am of what we built here together,” Kemba wrote.
Kemba also gave an endorsement to the team for other players in the league that he would recommend to consider playing in Charlotte.
He then goes on to address his new team in Boston and the excitement he has to compete and reach new heights in his career.
He wraps up the letter with messages to his longtime home, and his new home.
“Charlotte….. you are my people forever. You’re family, straight up. I love you,” Kemba wrote. “And Boston….. I’ll see you all in September. I’m ready. I’m truly ready.”
When he was selected as a starter for the first time in his career in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, right here in Charlotte, he said it felt surreal. He joined Glen Rice as the only players to represent Charlotte in three All-Star Games and became the third Hornets player to start an All-Star Game, along with Larry Johnson and Eddie Jones.
In 2018, he became the all-time leading scorer of the Hornets and was teary-eyed after breaking the record.
He reached 12,000 career points in the 2018-19 season, becoming the first player in Hornets history to do so.
In 2019, he was selected to the All-NBA team for the first time in his career.
Kemba Walker carried the Charlotte Hornets for the last eight seasons, and fans say it’s how he’s impacted the community that’s made the big difference.
However you choose to remember the Kemba Walker era in Charlotte, it’s safe to say that it will never be forgotten.
Thank You Kemba.