Kemba Walker, Nic Batum, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will continue to check in with hornets.com periodically for their running 2017-18 Captains’ Blog. Keep checking back to see what they have to say throughout the 2017-18 season:
By Kemba Walker, hornets.com | Friday, July 7 – 1:13 p.m.
What’s up Hornets fans? I want to start by letting everyone out there know that I feel good. I mean, it takes time, but (my left knee) is healing good. I’m getting better every day. My leg is getting stronger and that’s kind of my main focus right now – just to get healthy. I’m not on the court, I’m not playing any basketball yet. So yeah, I’m just trying to get healthy right now.
I will tell you one thing that’s making this recovery time a little easier – seeing what we’ve been able to do so far this offseason. I mean, it’s always good when you have guys you love playing with and can add another All-Star to a team – a guy who’s been through a lot, who’s been deep into the playoffs. Dwight Howard is a great player. So that’s huge for us, that’s huge for our team and for our city. I am just happy to have him.
I heard him say he thinks he can get back to that All-Star level and I know he can. I mean, he’s young. He’s only what – 31 years old? I grew up watching Dwight. I mean, to be able to get a chance to play with him, it’s going to be fun. I’ve got to change my game a little bit as far as throwing the lobs. I’ve got to get back to throwing some lobs again. It’s been years. I can’t even remember the last person I threw a lob to. I’m looking forward to it, man. It’s going to be fun. Dwight’s huge, his presence is ridiculous. Obviously, I’ve played against him, I know what kind of impact he has on a game. So, I’m excited he’s on my team now.
But we didn’t just make one move. We brought in four guys that are going to be great for us and will benefit just being around the guys that we have. I know how we are as a group – Marvin (Williams), MKG (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist), Nic (Batum) – and that is going to be great for all these new additions. We have a great culture around here. I just think that the guys that we have coming in, they fit perfect into what we’re trying to do. Dwight, MCW (Michael Carter-Williams), Malik (Monk) and Dwayne (Bacon) – all those guys work really hard and I’m looking forward to being around them. We’re going to have a really good team. We’ve got some depth, which we struggled with last year. I’m excited. I can’t wait… I can’t wait.
Being able to grab Malik and Dwayne on draft night, it was awesome, man. That was a great draft. We got lucky, man. We got lucky with Malik falling to us and then they made some great moves in getting Dwayne. Rich Cho and the group did a great job, man. A great job. Then to be able to grab MCW, that’s a steal for us. That was such a steal! He really wanted to be with us and I’m happy that he is with us because I think our organization just has so much to offer to him. Our coaching staff is going to make sure he’s going to get some good work. He’s going to become a better player just being around us because of the way we work, the way we handle our business whenever we’re in the arena. I’m looking forward to helping him as much as possible and also being on the court with him as well because he’s a tall dude who can guard multiple positions. That’s why he’s going to excel with us. I knew him a little bit before this and did what I could to help get him. We’ve got the same agent. When he was coming out (in 2013), I went to his draft party the night before the draft. They had like a small get-together. I met him there and have just playing against him, talking to him here and there. I don’t know him as well as I’d like to yet, but I will. I spoke to him. I don’t know if you heard, but I’m kind of the one who got things going on MCW . Yeah, I spoke to him and he was telling me how excited he was, how he wanted to play and wanted to come here and it was just a matter of getting it done. We did, so, I’m excited. It’s going to be fun.
I can tell all the fans this – we’re better but I’m going to come in and play the same way. I just look at it as being a leader. I feel like everybody’s going to be still looking at me as a leader. I just want to be the best leader that I can be. I want to be more vocal. That’s one of my goals. I want to be more vocal to my teammates this year. Other than that, nothing changes. Things change in a great way because guys are able to help me more. Having Dwight, he’s going to help us more. He’s going to help us become better players. He’s going to help Nic so much. That’s Nic’s thing. He loves to throw lobs. Everybody knows how unselfish he is. Dwight’s going to cause havoc when he rolls because Nic’s going to be finding everybody. I’m looking forward to everybody else really getting better and feeding off Dwight. It’s going to be fun.
I know these moves are going to raise expectations too, but as a player you never really care about other people outside of the organization’s expectations at all. I do, personally, have high expectations for this team but we have to try to live up to our own expectations. We’ve got a good team, man. It’s probably the best team we’ve had around here, besides two years ago when we made it to the playoffs. That was a really good team as well. This is definitely one of the better teams I’ve been on.
So yeah, it’s been a crazy summer. We’ve made some great moves on the court and off the court I was able to attend the NBA Awards and was voted by my peers to receive the NBA Sportsmanship Award. That meant a lot because the players voted for it. I think that’s why it made it more special. Guys that probably don’t even know me voted for me. Those guys see how I interact with other people – the way I interact on the court and off the court. Wherever they’ve probably seen me, they’ve seen that. They probably just thought I was a good person. That’s why it made it more special just because my peers are the ones who voted for me. That’s definitely a cool feeling, man. I don’t know, but that’s LeBron (James) and Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) and James Harden, the top-tier guys and the guys who don’t get talked about much. Lots of respect for those guys and the people who voted for me. It was definitely a big deal. My parents are really happy, of course. Through my speech, I shouted them out because I’m an extension of my parents. The reason that I got that award is because of my parents. It was cool, man.
Now I get the chance to head to Africa after being named the Team World Co-Captain for NBA Africa Game 2017, which is pretty cool too. I’m looking forward to that. That’s not something I would have done a few years ago. I’m trying to do more now and to get invited to that was cool. I’m happy I’m able to make that trip. It’s going to be different, but it’s going to be fun. Africa is a dream trip. That’s something people have on their bucket list and I’m able to go through the NBA, who does a great job with things like Basketball Without Borders. I’m excited. Africa is going to be fun, especially being alongside Dirk Nowitzki, who’s a great player, as well as Luol Deng and Thabo Sefolosha. It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.
But even though I’ve got all these cool things going on, my focus will always be on basketball. Everything for me is about 2017-18. I just want to play. I just want to win, and I just want to get back to the playoffs. I want to be the best leader I can be doing it too. It’s going to be a fun year. I hope our fans are ready!