New Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton with Deep Arizona Roots
Newly hired Lakers head coach Luke Walton became the hottest NBA head coach-to-be prospect during the 2015-2016 NBA season after taking over the reigns of the Golden State Warriors due to Steve Kerr’s absence.
Walton not only did a job well done, as the interim head coach, but guided the team to a 39-4 record during his tenure.
This will be Walton’s first full time head coaching job and although he has not coached a single game with the Lakers yet, everything seems to be falling into place for the 36 year old.
Walton was born with basketball blood in his veins, being the son of basketball great and Hall of Famer Bill Walton. The elder Walton was part the great UCLA teams during the 70’s and later played for Trail Blazers, Clippers and the Celtics.
Walton enjoyed a 10-year NBA playing career (2003-13), averaging 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 564 regular season games with the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. Originally selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, he was a member of championship teams with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010. He played collegiate basketball at the University of Arizona.
Walton joins former Arizona Wildcat point guard Steve Kerr in the head coaching ranks in the NBA and it should come to no surprise that both of them were schooled on the court by Basketball Hall of Famer head coach Lute Olson.
Not by coincidence, but by design, Walton was Kerr’s top assistant at Golden State.
Olson told sports writer Steve Rivera that he was very proud of both his pupils and expects nothing but the best out of Walton, "Luke did such a great job when he had to take over for Steve," Olson told Rivera Friday night. "He's a really knowledgeable basketball guy. With his experience up there with Steve and what he did in Los Angeles in helping Los Angeles win two world championships, it's great.”
The former Wildcat will remain with Golden State through the NBA play offs, but is eager to start a new chapter in his career, now as the head coach of the Lakers.
“I think they have some good, young, talented players,” Walton told reporters after he was hired. “Obviously you need to mix in some good vets with that to not only win, but to have players on the court that can help the young players grow. I’m excited about the players and the pieces there.”
Rivera, who covered Walton during his career at Arizona (1999-2003) sees in Walton a great fit for the Lakers, “The Lakers know exactly what they are getting-- a smart, humble basketball guy and person. He learned a lot under Lute, practice management and game strategy. It followed with Phil Jackson. What he's always had, however, was a sense of self.”