Own The Game: Kemba Walker
Kemba talks MJ and Charlotte ahead of the NBA All-Star Game.
Introduction By: Scoop Jackson
“Own The Game” is a series spotlighting the boldness and fearlessness of Jordan Brand family members.
Kemba owns the game through LOVE. Not that he loves the game more than anyone else, he just plays like it. Only someone with a love unconditional can go from NYC playground prodigy to the Big East tournament at MSG, to winning the NCAA National Championship, to carrying an NBA franchise.
It’s not love of fame or money, NBA All-Star Games, accolades, making the playoffs or even winning chips, it’s a love that comes with being able to show and prove to the world that you own your craft in ways most don’t. But can. You have that love — that Kemba Love. It lives within all of us, some just choose not to tap into it. This is what separates him from the rest of us. It’s the advantage Kemba has over all others, but one he doesn’t possess alone. He just makes it seem like he does.
Jordan Brand caught up with Kemba before a recent game to talk about how he’s gotten to this point and what he plans to do next.
On what it means to “Owns The Game”:
It’s the passion I play with and the energy I bring to my team. Every night, whether I’m scoring or not, whether we’re having a good game or a bad game, I still focus on bringing energy and leadership to the game. My goal has always been to get locked in from the minute I step into the building.
On his physical and mental consistency:
I’ve been getting my work in forever, really. That’s what I’m about. I’m all about trying to get better each
and every season. Nothing has changed. Last summer was the first time in three summers that I had a healthy summer without injuries. I was just in the gym.
On why MJ sees himself in Kemba:
It’s just that passion, fearlessness and toughness, especially mental toughness. To hear that from him, I mean, what kid wouldn’t want to hear that? That’s every kid’s childhood hero. It means a lot to me. When I was younger, I wore Jordans. He had the best sneakers and helped me become who I am. So I really understand the impact of seeing someone successful who looks like you and makes you feel like it’s possible. Since I play for his team, it makes me want to go out there and play that way every night.
On getting advice from MJ:
He talks a lot of trash. He can do that, though, because he can — and did — back it up. I’m not a big trash talker, but I wish I was. MJ’s just dope to be around. He’s just like us. He’s been through what we’ve been through. He’s the GOAT, so for him to be as down to earth as he is, I feel like I have no choice but to be that way myself.
On what he loves about Charlotte:
I love the people. I’m able to go to the mall, walk around and be a regular guy. Maybe it’s because I’m not
that tall. People don’t always recognize me. I don’t get bothered too much, which I love. I like to do normal things.
On his future goals:
I just want to make the playoffs. That’s the next step for me and the organization — to win and consistently be in the playoffs each year. That’s the goal we’ve all set for ourselves.
On his advice for the youth:
Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it, because it’s not true. Never let anything stop you from being who you are. If you’re determined to meet your goals, and you really believe in them, then it’s possible to achieve them. Nobody can tell you that you can’t do something.
I’ve always been the smallest guy on the team, and now I know that the smallest guy could have the biggest heart and drive. Be confident in that. Never let up. Trust yourself, trust your talent. Bigs shoot threes, and the little guys dunk. Always put yourself and your team in the best position to win. Listen and learn throughout the journey and never “know” too much. Continually be a student of the game.