Kemba Walker has been with the Hornets through thick and thin, relentlessly working to nudge them to greater heights even as his support has oscillated. When his name emerged in trade rumors this season, Walker said he would be “devastated” to leave Charlotte.
Though his future there is uncertain, the beloved star stayed long enough at least to capture a franchise record.
Walker (9,841 points) became the Hornets’ all-time leading scorer, passing Dell Curry (9,839 points).
“I’m not supposed to be here,” Walker said on the Charlotte telecast after wiping his eyes with his towel. “A lot of people from where I’m from don’t make it.
“It’s been a long ride, but this is a huge accomplishment.”
Walker set the mark with 21 points in the Hornets’ 118-105 loss to the Cavaliers tonight. He couldn’t keep up with LeBron James (41 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists), but Walker didn’t have to in order to earn love from fans, teammates and LeBron himself:
Hornets owner Michael Jordan also congratulated Walker:
The Hornets joined the NBA for the 1988-89 season then moved to New Orleans after 14 seasons. Another expansion team, the Bobcats, emerged in Charlotte for the 2004-05 season. That franchise later changed its name to the Hornets and assumed the original Hornets’ historical records. (The original Hornets became the Pelicans.)
Here are the all-time leading scorers for the conjoined Charlotte franchise:
Only the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (9,421 points) leads a franchise in scoring with fewer points, but that doesn’t nullify Walker’s accomplishment.
The Hornets have struggled to attract and retain talent. They haven’t existed long enough, in either form, to build a strong history.
But Walker got drafted by Charlotte, embraced it, built himself into a star and found a place that loved him back. This means a lot.