Kemba Walker Show Goes Out With a Bang

Rough shooting night can't overshadow what he accomplished

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Apr 5, 2011  |  Updated 8:35 AM EDT
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Kemba Walker Show Goes Out With a Bang

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His shots didn't fall, but Walker still cemented his greatness.

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Final episodes never turn out exactly the way we want them.

It was true of "Seinfeld" and "The Sopranos." It is also true of Kemba Walker's college career.

If you were scripting the last game of this splendid Connecticut run to a national title, you would have put Walker down for a performance that ranked among the greatest of all time. After the way he carried the team through the Big East Tournament and the first five games of the NCAA, you'd expect nothing less than 30-odd points and a shot to win a taut, fascinating game with time running running out.

We wanted him to bring a title back to the Bronx with the same kind of flourish that he did just about everything else during this season that took him from face in the crowd to bright, shining star.

Alas, you can't script sports. The game wasn't showcase of college basketball's finest, it was a grinding slugfest that no one is going to add to the reel of shining moments shown at the end of future title games.

Walker wasn't able to rise above the slog that affected everyone else on the court. He hit only five of his 19 shots, misfiring early and often on his way to 16 points that led his team but fell short of our wildest dreams.

That disappointment didn't last very long, though. Watching UConn celebrate their third national title on Monday night had everything to do with Walker even if his final scene was one of bricklaying instead of shot making.

Walker was the guy who made it possible for Jim Calhoun and the rest of the players to think Monday night was even possible when they were starting the conference tournament from ninth position. Walker was the player who made everyone else on the team better, taking a young team and turning them into a group capable of slugging their way to a title on a night when nothing was really going right.

Basically, what Walker did over the 11 games that took UConn from Big East also-ran to national champion was make it possible for his team to win a game like Monday night's even without a spectacular performance from their leader. We all might have liked to see something else happen, but we don't get to decide how final episodes play out.

We just get to watch them and, if we're lucky, marvel at the way they cap off a series that we'll never forget.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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