Kemba Walker retires: Four-time All-Star spent 12 seasons in NBA, led title-winning run at UConn

kemba getty

Former lottery pick and four-time All-Star Kemba Walker announced his retirement on Tuesday. The veteran point guard played in 12 NBA seasons for four different franchises, most notably the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets. He last played in the NBA in 2023 with the Dallas Mavericks. After that, he spent last season overseas with AS Monaco. 

Walker also led the UConn Huskies to the 2011 NCAA title, scoring 23.5 points per game that season.

Walker’s full statement, which he released on social media:

I want to start this by thanking God for everything he has given me. Basketball has done more for me than I could’ve ever imagined, and I am super thankful for the amazing journey I’ve had.

With that, I’m here to share that I am officially retiring from the game of basketball. This has all been a dream. When I look back, I still can’t believe the things I achieved in my career.

I know I couldn’t have made it to this point without my incredible support system around me. There are so many people to thank — my mom, dad and entire family, my teammates who have become family, and the coaches who believe in me and brought out the best in me.

Basketball will forever be a part of my life so this isn’t goodbye. I’m excited for what’s next. 

Walker first rose to national prominence at UConn, and is perhaps still best known for his game-winning shot to beat Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Big East Tournament. He then led the Huskies to the Big East Tournament and NCAA Tournament titles later that season, and was named Most Outstanding Player of the latter event. 

On the back of that brilliant run, Walker was selected No. 9 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the then-Charlotte Bobcats. He spent his first eight seasons in Charlotte and made three All-Star appearances, an All-NBA Second Team and helped the franchise make the playoffs twice in 2014 and 2016. (They have not been back to the postseason since then.) 

In the summer of 2019, Walker made an emotional decision to leave the Hornets. He eventually joined the Boston Celtics in a sign-and-trade deal that sent Terry Rozier back to Charlotte. 

“Tough days, f—ing tough days, I can’t even lie,” Walker said at the time. “Excuse my language. It was difficult. I couldn’t see myself just being on another team. It was just hard. That’s all I’ve known was Charlotte. Definitely some tough times. I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to get the offer that I wanted, and maybe not close to it, because of cap space.”

Walker was an All-Star during his first season with the Celtics, and helped the team reach the Eastern Conference finals in the bubble, but battled myriad health problems along the way, including knee soreness. That turned out to be the beginning of the end of his professional career, and he wound up playing just 89 more games in the NBA between the Celtics, New York Knicks and Mavericks due to continued knee problems. 

Over 750 career games, Walker averaged 19.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists. 

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