4-time All-Star Kemba Walker announces retirement from basketball

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Four-time All-Star Kemba Walker announced he is retiring from basketball after 13 seasons, 12 of which came in the NBA. 

Walker, the ninth overall pick out of UConn in 2011 by the Charlotte Bobcats, posted a lengthy statement to social media declaring his decision to end his playing days. 

However, basketball didn’t seem to be something Walker wants to leave entirely behind. 

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Kemba Walker brings the ball up the court

Kemba Walker #8 of the New York Knicks brings the ball up court during the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center on February 12, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

“I want to start this by thanking God for everything he has given me,” Walker wrote in his statement. “Basketball has done more for me than I could’ve ever imagined, and I am super thankful for the amazing journey I’ve had.

“With that, I’m here to share that I am officially retiring from the game of basketball. This has all been a dream. When I look back, I still can’t believe the things I achieved in my career.”

As is customary with a retirement statement, Walker thanked those who impacted him all these years. 

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“I know I couldn’t have made it to this point without my incredible support system around me,” Walker said in the statement. “There are so many people to thank — my mom, dad and entire family, my teammates who have become family, and the coaches who believed in me and brought out the best in me.

“Basketball will forever be a part of my life, so this isn’t goodbye. I’m excited for what’s next.”

Walker, 34, played overseas in his final season this past year for Monaco in EuroLeague, totaling 4.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game over 26 contests. 

Kemba Walker on the basketball court during a Dallas Mavericks game

Kemba Walker #34 of the Dallas Mavericks looks on against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the third quarter of the game at Target Center on December 19, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Timberwolves defeated the Mavericks 116-106. (David Berding/Getty Images)

Before that, Walker’s role in the NBA had been diminishing, playing just 37 games in his homecoming to New York with the Knicks during the 2021-22 campaign, and playing just nine games with the Dallas Mavericks the following year. 

However, Walker, a pure scorer during his days with the Huskies, brought that immediately to the Bobcats when he joined the league. 

Today, Walker remains Charlotte’s all-time leading scorer with 12,009 points, which he totaled over eight seasons as they transitioned to the Hornets. 

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Walker’s best years came from 2016-20, where he earned four consecutive All-Star nods and third-team All-NBA during his final season in Charlotte during the 2018-19 campaign when he had a career-high 25.6 points per game. 

Walker would move on to the Boston Celtics in a sign-and-trade deal before the 2019-20 season, where his All-Star status continued with 20.4 points and 4.9 assists per game. 

However, injuries would start to derail Walker’s career a bit after signing with Boston. He played just 43 of a possible 72 games the following season after being as durable as any guard in the league in previous years. Walker missed just 35 games total over his first eight seasons. 

But when healthy, Walker was simply a bucket, having the ability to score anywhere on the floor. 

His nickname, “Cardiac Kemba,” was developed in college with his knack for scoring in clutch moments, including an iconic stepback jumper against Pitt in the 2011 Big East Quarterfinal that saw UConn win at the buzzer. 

Kemba Walker smiles on court

Kemba Walker #8 of the New York Knicks reacts during the first half of a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on December 18, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

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They would go on to win the tournament, and the subsequent NCAA Tournament over Butler, that year. 

For his NBA career, Walker averaged 19.3 points, 5.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 41.8% from the field. 

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