I’m a four-time NBA All-Star and have played for the Celtics, Knicks and Mavericks – but my historic national title run made me a March Madness legend.

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I’m a four-time NBA All-Star and have played for the Celtics, Knicks and Mavericks – but my historic national title run made me a March Madness legend.

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Few players have had a bigger impact on March Madness than Kemba Walker.

The four-time NBA All-Star, who suited up for the Hornets, Celtics, Knicks and Mavericks during his career, led UConn on an incredible run to the 2011 NCAA Tournament that culminated with an improbable title.

Walker was the player of the tournament during March Madness in 2011.

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Walker was the player of the tournament during March Madness in 2011.Credit: Getty

The University of Connecticut suffered nine losses heading into the Big East Tournament and wasn’t on many people’s radars as true NCAA Tournament contenders.

But “Cardiac” Kemba had other ideas, and his famous backflip against Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament was a sign of what was to come later in the month.

That decisive shot at the buzzer is what ultimately propelled the Huskies to a victory in the Big East tournament.

Walker scored a tournament record 130 points and UConn became the first school to win five conference tournament games in as many days.

UConn ultimately earned a No. 3 seed at “The Big Dance,” but was still far from a favorite.

However, in Walker they had a certified scoring machine that could not be denied.

Kemba had a 33-point performance against Cincinnati in the Round of 16 and followed that up with a 36-point performance in the Sweet 16 against the No. 2 seed San Diego State Aztecs.

Walker and UConn continued to roll afterward.

They beat Arizona in the Elite Eight with Kemba scoring 20 points before eliminating Kentucky in the Final Four behind Walker’s 18 points.

His scoring production propelled the Huskies to a national title

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His scoring production propelled the Huskies to a national titleCredit: Getty
Walker cut down the net after winning a national championship

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Walker cut down the net after winning a national championshipCredit: Getty

This set up a meeting for a national championship game with Brad Stevens’ butler, who was on his own Cinderella run.

In a low-scoring game, Walker managed to score 16 points as the Huskies earned a 53–41 victory and their third national title overall.

The Huskies won their final 11 games en route to the 2011 national championship, and a lot of that credit goes to Walker.

The undersized guard averaged 23.5 points, six rebounds and six assists in the NCAA Tournament and was named tournament MVP.

It capped a remarkable year for Kemba, who previously won the Bob Cousy Award for the nation’s top college basketball point guard.

Walker’s dominance at “The Big Dance” put the basketball world on alert and he was drafted ninth overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2009 NBA Draft.

He became an All-Star in Charlotte

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He became an All-Star in CharlotteCredit: Getty
He last played in the NBA for the Mavericks and now plays in France

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He last played in the NBA for the Mavericks and now plays in FranceCredit: Getty

It was during his time at North Carolina that Walker first established himself as an All-Star.

He eventually joined the Celtics and was named to his fourth consecutive All-Star Game in 2020, being selected as the Eastern Conference starter.

Later that year, Kemba received a stem cell injection into his left knee, which marked the start of nagging injuries that plagued his career.

The point guard joined his hometown Knicks in 2021 and missed most of the following season with knee issues.

He signed with the Mavs in 2022, but by the summer of 2023, he had joined LNB Pro A and EuroLeague club AS Monaco.

Now 33 and playing outside of the NBA, Walker is clearly approaching the twilight of his career.

But he will always be remembered for his incredible March Madness run in 2011 and for being the star of the tournament.

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