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Boston Celtics

Sights and sounds from Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker's first return to Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Eight seasons. Three All-Star Games. One All-NBA selection.

He's the Charlotte Hornets' all-time leading scorer with 12,009 points. He's also the all-time leader in minutes played (20,607), field goals made (4,164), 3-pointers made (1,283), free throws made (2,398) while ranking second all-time in assists (3,308) and third all-time in total games played (605) and steals (799).

He's the Hornets all-time leader in win shares (48.5) and to something not many people would argue - the greatest player in franchise history.

Friday, Kemba Walker made his first return to the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina as a member of the visiting team. It was highly anticipated. It was emotional. It was exciting and exhilarating. It was also "weird", as Walker would put it.

"When I was here, I would talk about wondering what it would feel like to never come back. I never thought it would happen but now that it's here… it's weird.

"To be in (the visiting locker room) now - we would only go in there to be randomly drug tested - it's weird being here right now," Walker joked with the media at his morning media session prior to Boston's shootaround.

"Weird" isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. "I'm excited to be back here, to see my old friends, my old teammates. People that work in this building. People I've been seeing over the last eight years. I'm just really excited to see everyone," Walker continued.

"It's bigger than basketball here. Just around the community, with the fans, I've always interacted with the fans. I was nice to everybody. So I don't think there will be anything but positive reactions."

And he was right - there was nothing but positive reactions from the Hornets fan base.

Four of the Celtics' five starters were announced, followed by head coach Brad Stevens, leaving one player - the main attraction - remaining. The Hornets aired Walker's tribute video and then in the same fashion as the past eight seasons of his career, Kemba heard his name called by the Spectrum Center M.C.

However, it wasn't the most memorable first half for Walker who went 0-for-6 from the field with just three points and two assists. He's so used to playing for the home team in this arena that after he missed a step-back 3-pointer to end the half, he took a hesitation step toward the home locker room that he's so familiar with.

Walker started to get things going in the second half, and his mom was loving it.

He scored 11 points in the third quarter but did not play in the fourth quarter due to Boston's big lead. Walker finished with 14 points, six assists, two rebounds and one block shooting 4-for-12 from the field and 3-for-9 from beyond the arc, going a team-best plus-20 (tied with Hayward) in a victory in his first game back in Charlotte.

After the game Kemba had nothing but love for his former teammates, sending each player off with a hug.

And in his post-game press conference with media packed into the small visitors locker room, Walker kept things simple - mostly because he couldn't wait to see his mother.

"I'm looking forward to seeing her right now. That's a little hint," Walker quipped to the crowd.

"It was a special night. If I could do it all over again, I would."

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