There’s been a number of players to make the NBA from New York, but only a handful have been from the Bronx. Kemba Walker, the latest BX product to make a splash in the League, has been taking opposition guards to school at Madison Square Garden since his days as a Huskie. Not much has changed since he made the leap to the NBA. The Bronx-born Walker dominated his hometown Knicks as a member of the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night, finishing with 25 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists, leading the Bobcats to a, 102-97, win.
We caught up with Walker after the game to see how the Bronx has influenced him growing up, and to get a sense of his ‘borough pride.
S5: What happened with the injury? You looked like you collided with Metta World Peace?
Kemba Walker: I don’t know, I just heard my shoulder. It didn’t feel so bad at the time, like a pop. [It] was real quick. I’m fine, I took x-rays and all. I’m fine.
S5: Great to hear. I want to talk to you about where you’re from, the Bronx. What was that like growing up for you there, and how did it influence you?
KW: It just made me tough, man. You know, I came from a pretty rough neighborhood, my older brother was in-and-out of jail and I had him as an influence. It wasn’t positive, but I knew what not to do so the Bronx just made me tough, man. It made me who I am.
S5: There’s been a few players to make the NBA from the Bronx – Jamal Mashburn, Malik Sealy and Rod Strickland, to name a few – did you grow up watching these guys feeling like if they could make it, so could you?
KW: Not really, man. I just played basketball growing up, just here and there. I got better and better each year and I just kind of got lucky, man. I just kept playing, I’ve always been a hard worker. I just worked on my game and continued to get better and things just happened for me. I went to U-Conn, kept on working hard and had that great run. From there I was able to get drafted. I just try to get better each, and every, year.
S5: I know you’re proud of being from the Bronx so you’re always looking to give back to the community as well. I understand you helped refurbish a court where you grew up. Tell me more about that. That was in conjunction with Under Armour?
KW: Yeah, Under Armour and the NBA. We refurbished the old court where I grew up at. [It’s] right at the back of my old building. It was cool, a great experience. I was able to see a lot of my old friends, some family. It was fun, man.
S5: I know you played a lot of summer ball, you played Rucker Park and Dyckman, but I’ve noticed that Hoops In The Sun at Orchard Beach in the Bronx seems to be your favorite? Is that because it is in the BX?
KW: Those are my guys, Joe and Randy [Cruz]. I’ve been playing in those tournaments for a long, long, time. It’s always fun.
S5: Finally, speaking of repping the Bronx. Do you watch Love and Hip Hop New York?
KW: No. Hell no.
S5: Peter Gunz has been in the news lately because of his appearance on there.
KW: What? He’s on there? Na, man. I don’t watch that stuff. [laughs].
Image via: Jim O’Connor, USA TODAY Sports