Kemba Walker wanted to learn his fate the old-fashioned way – no spoilers.
The Charlotte Hornets’ point guard told friends, family and his agent not to call or text if they heard in advance whether he’d been selected an NBA All-Star. He wanted to learn like an average fan, watching the announcement Thursday night on TNT.
TNT announced the Western Conference reserves first, then the reserves from the East. Walker was getting a little antsy in his hotel room in New York City.
"I was getting a little nervous," Walker recalled during a conference call with media. "When they called my name, I was kind of shocked."
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I know there were a lot of doubts about me. I give my all each and every day. ... We’ve come a long way (since a 7-59 season). ... To represent the Hornets in the All-Star Game will be really cool.
Shocked and thrilled. Walker becomes the first All-Star from the Bobcats/Hornets since forward Gerald Wallace received the honor in 2010. Walker was selected by a vote of the Eastern Conference coaches, who loaded up the squad with five point guards.
Walker was watching the selection show with center Roy Hibbert. His hotel room filled quickly as news spread.
"All my teammates sort of stormed into the room," Walker said. "They all gave me hugs."
Walker is having his best of five NBA seasons, averaging 23 points and shooting 45.9 percent from the field and 41.4 percent from 3-point range. He is second in the Eastern Conference in 3s made, at 127.
Among those to quickly send congratulations was Hornets coach Steve Clifford.
"He just told me he was super-proud of me, that it was well-deserved," Walker said. "From Day 1 (when Clifford was hired in 2013) he told me I could be an All-Star. I got my name called, so he was right."
Walker said he feels he and the Hornets have changed perception in his time as a pro, after the Hornets drafted him ninth overall in 2011.
"I know there were a lot of doubts about me. I give my all each and every day," Walker said. "We’ve come a long way (since a 7-59 season). We had some really down years. To represent the Hornets in the All-Star Game will be really cool."
Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker says he may not deserve an NBA All-Star bid given the Hornets' mediocre record - although the team has campaigned hard to get him there.Scott Fowler firstname.lastname@example.org
The All-Star Weekend will be in New Orleans Feb. 17-19. The 2017 All-Star Weekend was originally awarded to Charlotte. Concerned that the North Carolina law known as House Bill 2 has discriminatory elements, the NBA moved All-Star Weekend to New Orleans last summer.
Walker will be joined in New Orleans by Hornets power forward Frank Kaminsky, who has been selected to play in the Rising Stars game involving first- and second-year pros.
"It would have been really special if this had been in Charlotte," Walker said.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell