Even after he opted for the Boston Celtics back in 2019, many thought it was just a matter of time before he made his way back to where he had one of the brightest moments of his career.
Walker famously hit a game-winner on the court of Madison Square Garden back in 2011 to send his college team, the UCONN Huskies, to the Semi-Finals round of the NCAA tournament.
UCONN went on to win the 2011 NCAA championship, thanks to the point guard’s famous stepback against Pittsburgh.
The lore that surrounds Walker in New York City was a big player in his ultimately signing on with the Knicks this summer.
But it wasn’t the only factor. Apparently, a fellow New York native played his part in recruiting the point guard.
Walker: Taj Gibson Made Recruiting Attempts
When speaking to the media on Thursday, Kemba Walker shared a fun story involving New York Knicks center Taj Gibson.
Apparently, at different times over the last two seasons, he would actively recruit the point guard during games:
Gibson was already a fan favorite prior to this story from Walker, but trust fans only love him more because of this.
The 36-year old, a longtime disciple of Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, has played a large role in the team’s culture shift over the last year and a half.
Gibson is a respected voice in this young locker room, and apparently, the same sentiment is felt by Walker.
A 12-year veteran, he averaged 5.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game last season for New York.
And it’s sounding like they’re going to need Taj Gibson more than anticipated rolling into next year.
Gibson to Play a Big Role to Start 2021
While the story of Kemba Walker and Taj Gibson touched the hearts of New York Knicks fans on Thursday, the larger narrative that emerged surrounds Mitchell Robinson.
After missing 41 games last season over two different stretches with hand and foot injuries, head coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t sound optimistic (via the New York Post) that the fourth-year center will be ready for the season opener:
“When he’s ready, he’s ready. I think it’s important for us to have the big picture in mind with him.”
He maintained that the Knicks’ priority is making sure Robinson’s foot is fully healed, adding that conditioning will be his first step in getting back on the court:
“We just want to make sure it’s completely healed. When you’ve been out the amount of time [he has], he’s got to get conditioning up to speed first, and so that’s really the first step. And then once that happens, then it will be clear to do more and more practice.”
New York has a luxury most teams envy in that their center rotation could rival most, with or without Robinson.
Should the former second-round pick miss next season’s start, expect Nerlens Noel to be prepared for the starting role, one he often filled throughout all of last year.
Behind him will be the aforementioned Taj Gibson, a smart and savvy veteran who’s shown he’s got plenty left in the tank.
It seems when all is said and done next season, the New York Knicks will have a lot to thank him for.
Kemba Walker’s arrival is just the tip of the iceberg.