Kemba Walker returns for Celtics after knee injury: 'I don't feel anything and it's joy'

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3-min read

The Boston Celtics struggled on Sunday.

While they found themselves on the wrong side of a disappointing 30-point blowout loss to the New York Knicks, Kemba Walker left TD Garden feeling amazing.

Walker made his long-awaited return on Sunday after dealing with a left knee injury for months.

“I felt really comfortable making my moves,” Walker said, via ESPN. “[I was] pain-free, which I haven’t been for a very long time.

“It feels weird actually not having pain, if that makes sense. It’s kind of a weird feeling. I’ve been hurt for a very long time, so I was really just happy to get out there, just super excited. It was fun. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

The Celtics never led on Sunday afternoon and fell into a 13-point hole at halftime en route to the 105-75 loss.

Jaylen Brown led Boston with 25 points and six rebounds, and Marcus Smart dropped 10 points. They were the only two who scored in double figures for the Celtics. Jayson Tatum was still out due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

Julius Randle led the Knicks with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while shooting 7-of-14 from the field. RJ Barrett added 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Immanuel Quickley finished with 17 points off the bench.

Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker made his season debut on Sunday for Boston. (AP/Michael Dwyer)

Walker: ‘I don’t feel anything, and it’s joy’

Walker last took the court for Boston in the Celtics’ loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals at Walt Disney World. He then received a stem cell injection in his knee and had been sidelined ever since.

Walker said he couldn’t pinpoint a moment where he realized that he was fully healed. Eventually, though, he noticed that he wasn’t thinking about his knee out on the court anymore.

Though his game looked a bit rusty — Walker finished with nine points, four assists and three rebounds in 20 minutes, and shot just 3-of-13 from the field — the 30-year-old was just thrilled to be back.

“At one point it was like, mentally that’s all I could think about. Like, on the court, in the bubble, that’s all I could think about was my knee,” Walker said, via ESPN. “Every step I took, every move I made, it was something, even when I wasn't playing. Now I’m out there and I’m trying to do a step-back and the first thing out of my mind is like, ‘Damn, this is probably going to hurt.’ Not even worried about making or missing the shot, it’s just about the pain.

“Today when I’m out there, I’m making the moves I normally make and I don’t feel anything and it’s joy. I’m excited. I put in a lot of work. I really attacked my rehab to get where I’m at, and I want to continue to build off this and just try to stay healthy. That’s the most important thing.”

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