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Celtics’ Kemba Walker not going to focus on trying to be better than Nets’ Kyrie Irving


Kemba Walker is walking into his ninth season in the league, knowing he has a chance to contend from the very start. The new Boston Celtics prized gem will replace Kyrie Irving at point guard, who left as a free agent to sign with the Brooklyn Nets. However the Celtics newcomer won’t try to one-up Irving’s short-lived tenure, but rather make this one his own.

“I’m not trying to go in and think that I have to be better than Kyrie last year,” Walker told Shams Charania of The Athletic. “It happens. Great players go to teams all the time and it just doesn’t work. It just didn’t work for him. Kyrie is one of the best players we have in this world. It was just unfortunate, an unfortunate season.

“I’m not coming in thinking I’m going to be better. I’m coming in to do my job, play my part and do what I can to elevate these guys as much as possible. Do what I can to help the team, to contribute to winning. These guys, they’ve been winning for years. I want to be part of that. This is a big-time roster. The guys that make up the roster, there’s such great young talent — guys who are hungry, who want to win and want to get better and work hard. That’s who I want to be around.”

Fans will have an obvious expectation for the floor general after recent years of Isaiah Thomas and Irving, but Walker is confident he’s under the right guidance with tactician Brad Stevens on his side.

“Point guards can have great success under Coach,” said Walker. “Obviously Kyrie left, so it was an open point guard spot. It was just perfect. Boston is such a historic place. Who wouldn’t want to play for the Celtics?”

Walker will have the chance to make the playoffs for the first time in four seasons with an already talented roster, so long as he can soak in Stevens’ knowledge and become that missing piece that can unlock the talents of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.