CHARLOTTE'S ALL-STAR REP ON GROWING UP IN NEW YORK CITY AND PLAYING FOR A VERY FAMOUS BOSS
SI: You've got the unique experience of playing on a team that's owned by the greatest player of all time. What was your first interaction with Michael Jordan?
KW: My draft workout. He was just sitting on the side. I was nervous but I tried my best to impress them. I think I did. I remember he was talking trash, which he usually does a lot.
SI: Talking trash how?
KW: They had us put two balls on the floor and told us to palm the basketballs. As I'm going up, he's like, "Man, get out of here. You can't palm the ball."
SI: Could you have ever imagined as a kid that you'd have unfettered access to Michael Jordan?
KW: It's still kind of surreal. I can text or call him anytime and he responds right away. That's a special feeling to have.
SI: As a New Yorker playing in the NBA, you've become one of those guys who kids in the city look up to. Do you ever go back to play on the old courts?
KW: I can't play there nowadays. My knees don't work that way. I used to go back all the time, check out the game at Rucker Park and places like that. Last summer I did the first annual Kemba Walker Camp in the Bronx, which was amazing. I love it because that's where I'm from, and I know how hard it can be for a young kid to make it out of that city. So I just try to be that role model for these kids. I truly feel that if I can do it, anyone can, especially at my size [6'1"]. Not everybody's going to be 6'5" or 6'6". I try to be that inspiration.
SI: Is it true that you used to dance for money... ?
KW: I knew this was coming. Who told you that, my mom?
SI: I did some homework, put it that way. Did you dance for money outside of a laundromat?
KW: I guess I was a young boy when I was doing it. [Laughs.] But I don't really remember.
SI: You also performed at the Apollo Theater? The name of your group was Future Flavors?
KW: I got a chance to perform there a few times. It was amazing. Growing up in New York and knowing the history of the Apollo, that was an unbelievable moment.
SI: You'll be a free agent this summer. Do you feel like the Hornets are in a good position to be a winner in the next few years?
KW: I think we can be. I think there are some good young pieces. Do I think we might need some more? Yeah. That's not up to me. That's up to the guys upstairs.