March 28, 2018 was a complicated day for Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker. Against the backdrop of a 13 point loss, the fans in Charlotte’s Spectrum Center rose to their feet to give their talented point guard the standing ovation he deserved. Kemba entered NBA history. Twice. First, as the Hornets leading scorer in franchise history, and second as a player who is 0-26 against LeBron James all time.
Kemba has a long history with the month of March in general, dating all the way back to his college days at the University of Connecticut where he took his Huskies on a run that ended in a National Championship banner and cemented Walker’s legacy in March Madness lore. Since then however, despite the talented guard’s best efforts, his teams have not been playing for much come late March. This particular Thursday in question was no different.
Let’s set the scene for Kemba’s strange night. We’ll start with the bad. The Hornets were already eliminated from the playoffs, meaning for the fourth time in Walker’s six seasons with the team he would not be headed to the postseason. Playing for nothing is already a tough pill to swallow but Charlotte then had to host LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers, a formidable foe to say the least. A tough matchup was put under an additional microscope when internet sleuths discovered the Kemba Walker has never beaten a team with LeBron James on it. That’s right, it’s hard to beat the same team 4 times in a a seven game series, but LeBron has somehow managed to beat the Hornets 25 times over the course of six seasons. While this is more of a testament to an inept Hornets front office than anything else, it still has to be tough when someone has had your number for six whole years.
Ready for the good side? Me too. Kemba entered Thursday’s game 19 points behind Dell Curry (Steph Curry’s father) for all-time points leader in Charlotte franchise history. As the time wound down late in the fourth quarter Walker hit a three pointer to tie the record, then a contested layup with 15 seconds to go to make history. Kemba gave an emotional post game interview discussing the accomplishment telling Fox Sports, “I’m not supposed to be here. A lot of people from where I’m from don’t make it… this is a huge accomplishment.”
No matter how many times LeBron beats Walker, he will not be able to take this accomplishment away from him. But this situation does highlight the plight of Kemba. In a recent interview with the Charlotte Observer he expressed his frustration with the teams recent (lack of) success, “I’m tired of not being in the playoffs. … I hate watching them on TV.” The 27 year old will be a free agent at the end of next year’s NBA season, only giving the Hornets a year to make their case to keep their young star. From Kemba’s perspective however, he may only have to grin and bear it for one last year left before he can finally beat LeBron James.