NEW YORK — Kemba Walker couldn’t have envisioned this Christmas.
Less than two weeks ago, his coach wouldn’t even call his name.
On Saturday, his hometown fans were chanting it.
Walker became the seventh NBA player with a triple-double on Christmas, and the New York Knicks beat the depleted Atlanta Hawks 101-87 for their first win on the holiday in a decade.
“It was amazing,” Walker said. “Those are moments that you dream about. It’s kind of hard to put it into words, to be honest.”
Walker finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. The 6-foot guard raced around the floor trying desperately for his 10th rebound for much of the second half, finally getting it in the fourth quarter when Mitchell Robinson’s block came to him.
It was the first triple-double on Christmas since Golden State’s Draymond Green in 2017, continuing Walker’s strong stretch since going from a nine-game stint out of the rotation to back in the starting lineup when the Knicks were short-handed.
Besides Walker and Green, the other players with Christmas triple-doubles are Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Oscar Robertson, Billy Cunningham and John Havlicek. Robertson did it four times.
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 25, 2021
Kemba Walker joined an impressive list of players to record #NBAXmas triple-doubles. 🤯
Draymond Green (2017)
Russell Westbrook (2013)
LeBron James (2010)
Billy Cunningham: (1970)
John Havlicek (1967)
Oscar Robertson: 4 times pic.twitter.com/IPdVlWdSk5
— NBA (@NBA) December 25, 2021
He said he couldn’t have foreseen things turning so quickly.
“This is not how we pictured it,” he said. “I ain’t complaining, either.”
Fans in the sold-out crowd chanted “Kemba Walker! Kemba Walker!” for the New York native, who scored 44 points in a loss to Washington on Thursday.
“As a teammate, as a brother, I’m happy for him that he’s able to come out and be who he is,” Knicks forward Julius Randle said. “I’m sure when he signed to come here this is kind of what he envisioned, playing the type of basketball that he’s playing right now.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.