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  • tate793

    tate793 12:44 AM on September 25, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Pretty Cool Shirt 


  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 7:18 PM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Looking forward to training camp. Some of us have agreed, others of us have not and it’s fair to say we’ve seen a fair amount of repetition and droll posts during these few dog days. But the phoenix rises and so to with it what hope we have. So I look forward to being proved wrong, in any way really. Some of us get there. others do not, but the moon always brings a little light.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 5:11 PM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Mike D’Antoni reflects on his time with the Lakers and his struggles getting everyone on the same page 

    After parting ways with head coach Mike Brown only five games into the 2012-13 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers courted former coach Phil Jackson to bring out of retirement. Although Jackson seriously considered the proposition, the Lakers brass went in another direction seemingly out of nowhere by hiring Mike D’Antoni.

    Following two disappointing seasons and the departure of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol in free agency, D’Antoni resigned as Lakers head coach in April of 2014. D’Antoni struggled in Los Angeles in the same way he did during his time with the New York Knicks. All the success D’Antoni had with the Steve Nash-led Phoenix Suns seemed to have faded away as his system never really caught on with the Lakers or Knicks.

    Although he resigned from his last two coaching jobs in the NBA, the 65-year-old was able to get another head coaching gig in the league with the Houston Rockets. As he prepares to face his former team in his Rockets debut on Oct. 26, D’Antoni reflected on his time in Los Angeles and New York and in an interview with Maurice Bobb of Bleacher Report.

    “I could never get the guys from the beginning to buy into the way we want to play,” D’Antoni told Bleacher Report. “We never got everybody going into the same direction. That was my fault. It happened. That’s in the past. This is a new team. Guys want to play the way we all want to play.”

    D’Antoni will now try to give it one more shot with the Rockets. The odds may not be in his favor with Houston falling apart over the past couple of seasons, going from potential title contender to a team struggling to make the playoffs.

    During his stint with the Suns, D’Antoni was widely considered to be one of the best coaches in the NBA. Phoenix, however, never made it beyond the Western Conference Finals. D’Antoni’s teams always fell short to heavyweights like Dirk Nowitzki’s Dallas Mavericks and Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs in the postseason.

    There’s no question that D’Antoni’s system has worked well at times. Nash has two NBA MVP awards to prove that fact as well as many deep runs in the playoffs, but it seems as though when D’Antoni had to deal with outspoken or ball-demanding stars like Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, the well-traveled head coach couldn’t put it together.

    D’Antoni’s stint with the Rockets might be more of the same with James Harden reportedly becoming increasingly difficult to deal with in Houston. Only time will tell how that relationship works out and if D’Antoni can turn things around for a once-promising team led by an elite scorer.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 5:28 PM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I always loved Mike D’Antoni’s offensive approach to the game. He was the primal driving force behind today’s modern 3-point driven pace and space offense. Obviously not the best match for ball dominant superstars like Kobe and Melo. Going to be interesting to see if he can get Harden to buy in. That’s what it comes down to. Can Mike sell him and will James buy in? And as always, can he get Harden and Company to play solid D. Good luck, tough challenge, Mike.

      Steve Kerr doesn’t get enough credit for the selfless team first culture he created in Golden State in getting the team to buy in and change from a system that had won over 50 games the year before to a motion offense that demanded greater ball and player movement, a system that gave everybody more touches. Luke is off to a great start creating a similar culture with our young Lakers. It’s all about ball movement. The easiest way to watch our progress is going to be how many assists we make each game and what percentage of our hoops are assisted.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 2:21 PM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Luke & Co. definitely seem to make a conscious effort to change the narrative on D-lo. Very smart move. 

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 2:24 PM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Or maybe Luke and Jesse are very impressed because D’Angelo has matured and excelled both on and off the court?

      • Magic Phil

        Magic Phil 2:36 PM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        He hasn’t matured and excelled both on and off the court. Not at all. What makes you think that? Articles?

        The kid might have some promising career but that’s it, at this point. Until he actually show us that he has matured and excelled both on and off the court, I’m waiting.

        And, BTW, I like the chip that JC has on his shoulder better than D-Lo’s soft approach. But that’s just me.

        • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

          Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 3:09 PM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          I’m with you, MP, my man Clarkson is primed for a season of steps forward after showing consistency at the 2 last season. Never a word about Clarkson not being with the program, needing special attention, etc. Dude shows u8p and does his thing and takes it to the court, which is the biggest and most important step.

        • keen observer

          keen observer 4:52 PM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          D’Angelo Russell has a “soft approach”? What makes you say that?

    • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

      Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 3:04 PM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Smart for all parties involved. Kids grow up, let’s see how this one does.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 1:53 PM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Passing the Torch! 

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 8:31 AM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Tarik Black Admits Coach Luke Walton Is ‘Killing’ The Lakers During 5-On-5 

    When Luke Walton was hired to take over the Los Angeles Lakers in late April, one of the primary selling points for the former Golden State Warriors assistant was his youth and exuberance. Now, it appears that Walton is putting that energy to good use… in lighting up his own players in five-on-five drills.

    As part of a feature about Walton in Los Angeles, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report spoke to current Lakers big man Tarik Black, and he revealed that Walton is “killing” his players on the court:

    “His passing ability…oh, my God. He’s still killing us with straight passes. You know he can’t run and jump with us right now. His back is what it is; he can only do so much. Still…how he shares the ball, it’s amazing.”

    While it isn’t a shock to consider that Walton would move the ball well given his skill set as a player, the 36-year-old drew even more praise from Black in that Walton’s presence on the court illuminates the path to future success for the Lakers.

    “It shows us what he’s looking for. It’s easier to imitate something than to hear something and try to make it happen. We honestly love it, because how much fun is it to play with your head coach? And talk trash with him.

    “Then you start understanding he really cares. He’s out here playing with us. He’s out here having fun with us. This is someone we can have fun with. That just builds a trust and relationship that you need in order to be successful.

    “That sets the culture of caring. And guys are going to imitate that, too—really imitate that.”

    Of course, there almost had to be push back from other parts of the roster, and combo guard Jordan Clarkson chimed in on Twitter to throw shade in Walton’s direction.

    Even Clarkson, though, relented in the end in that saying that Walton “still got game” and, at the very least, there is a new energy and enthusiasm surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers that simply wasn’t present during the Byron Scott era. Any buzz about what will or won’t happen on the court is just talk at this point, but the Lakers undoubtedly sought Walton to change the culture for one of the league’s flagship franchises and he appears to be doing just that.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 8:24 AM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Head Coach Luke Walton Labels D’Angelo Russell As ‘Leader’ 

    The point guard is often referred to as the coach’s extension on the court. A head coach and point guard must be in sync so that the offense can flow smoothly. Beginning his first season as the head coach of Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton has found himself a partner.

    Entering as the NBA’s youngest head coach, the 36-year-old will incorporate some philosophies from Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr; an up-tempo style offense with spacing and selflessness.

    That philosophy must now translate over to D’Angelo Russell, the presumed star to take over after Kobe Bryant’s retirement. Russell illustrated his excitement when Walton signed, also giving his coach an ovation when introduced at the new practice facility.

    The two have formed quite the bond, with less than a week until their first training camp in Santa Barbara. Russell has alluded to Walton as a big brother, relishing the opportunity to learn from a brilliant basketball mind.

    Walton announced that he is expecting a lot from Russell this season, even stating that the second-year player has been phenomenal thus far.

    As a younger coach, Walton obtains the ability to connect with the millennial generation of players entering the league. The roster commencing this season has heard of the respect Walton has garnered, even before his coaching debut.

    Walton has already given Russell the proverbial green light, stating Russell has a desire to be great.

    In fact, Walton has started allocating some leadership duties to the Kentucky native, via Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

    He is proud that Walton, from their first time together in offseason workouts, requested Russell’s voice to break the team’s huddles: “This is the point guard! He’s the leader!” Walton bellowed. “When he speaks, guys, you gotta listen.”

    With a celebration attached to him, Russell has begun reaping the benefits and negatives of the spotlight in Los Angeles. His ‘ice in my veins’ dance has created quite the following, especially after a outstanding game-winner sealed the summer league contest.

    During his rookie season, Russell averaged 13.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. The 20-year-old was a 2015-16 All Rookie selection, attempting to continue off the momentum he built towards the end of last season.

    With a new head coach and young core ready to take the next step, the franchise is heading in the right direction. With Walton and Russell on the same page, the Lakers could be farther ahead than imagined.

  • Magic Phil

    Magic Phil 11:14 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Garnett says ‘farewell’ to the NBA after 21 seasons | NBA.com 

    “I’m just thankful. I can’t even put that into words,” Garnett says. “I’m just thankful. I’m just thankful for everybody and the love. I never would have thought that people love me like this. But, for it to be reality is just something else, man. Man.”

    via Garnett says ‘farewell’ to the NBA after 21 seasons | NBA.com.

    • mclyne32 (Director) 11:26 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Truly a great competitor.
      Would have loved him in the Purple and Gold.

    • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

      Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 2:06 AM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Funny how he and Duncan both bowed out in the post season. In this instance I think KG just doesn’t see the reward in the work that makes it worth it. He can have pretty much whatever symbolic role he wants within the organization and likely an assistant coaching position if he pushed but my guess is he’ll go for TV. Anything is possible.

  • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

    Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 4:45 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 12:17 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Here’s why Lakers fans should be excited about the post-Kobe Bryant era 

    • DJ2KB24

      DJ2KB24 3:34 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Care more about winning than fun dudes!

      • DJ2KB24

        DJ2KB24 3:35 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        PS-Dwight Howard plays for fun, how many Chips he got? ZERO

        • AK27

          AK27 4:36 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          But he’s still a winner ! :D

        • Magic Phil

          Magic Phil 6:16 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          DH, for me, has -1 ring. He needs to win 1 to be at zero rings because the Nash-DH-Kobe thing was the most pathetic performance/behavior I’ve ever seen on a bball player.

    • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

      Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 3:37 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      All this weight being heaped on Young Master Walton’s shoulders and to his credit he has always been good about putting a positive spin on things. Not sure folks should expect the 720 degree turnaround that some are already proclaiming. if you took away who said many of the quotes coming from the office of the head coach from both this year and last you would be hard-pressed indeed to say which was Luke and which was Byron.

      So, big-time we’ll see. Optimism and good vibes will get about as far as the first week of camp. Reality will dictate how much the good times and mellow vibes roll on. So very many of these articles fail to mention the end of the court where the growth needs to happen: defensive end. So, while I think it’s a good thing the kids are hanging out, working on their skills that is to be expected. Frankly, there would be a problem if they weren’t doing this. So, give them a cookie for a good job but let’s not go jerking each other off just yet.

      • DJ2KB24

        DJ2KB24 3:51 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Nah, this is Reality, not just hoping! We got the Chip! We got it and how in the world with Luke and Steph and Klay and Kevin and Dray and, oops, we only got Luke, well, we still B Champs!

        • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

          Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 3:55 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          LOL, you’re on a roll, deej. I’m just hoping we compete with NBA level talent on a nightly basis. Show up for the games, play your best, that’s all I’m expecting. If they don’t even do that…gonna be a long little while before there’s much to be excited about or a reason to drop big-time clams going to a game. Honestly, if this season is as craptastic as the last 3 I’ll likely kill my TWC subscription and go back to radio and whatever comes on regular cable. There needs to be a reason to spend money like they charge. So far, the reasons are lacking.

      • mud

        mud 4:01 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        720 degree!!??

        180 degree would be plenty. 720 degree would just be spinning in place twice…

        • Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well)

          Jamie Sweet (Local Ne'er-Do-Well) 4:21 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Well there are only about 834 articles about how Luke has brought a sea-change to organization and we haven’t even heard what happened in camp yet…because camp hasn’t started. Might be a bit over the top, all these expectations. Hence my intentional, and hilarious I might add, use of more degrees than are available with the diameter of a circle.

  • DJ2KB24

    DJ2KB24 11:44 AM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Wheeeeee! Luke is saving the Lakers, I see 2016-17 Chip! Yea! Hope I have to eat that crow!

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 10:08 AM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Breaking down the Lakers’ center rotation 

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 10:08 AM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Jeanie Buss Says Hiring Luke Walton Is ‘Best Thing We’ve Done’ This Summer 

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 7:57 AM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Optimism for new Collective Bargaining Agreement by December 

    • John M.

      John M. 1:53 PM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Nice to know no one should go hungry :).

    • keen observer

      keen observer 4:54 PM on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Obviously there’s more than enough money to go around to keep everyone happy.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 7:41 AM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    NBA's Youngest Coach, Luke Walton, Is on the Level with Millennial-laden Lakers 

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – D’Angelo Russell’s eyes are sparkling as he makes clear how he feels about his new coach.

    “At this level, I don’t really know what it takes to win,” Russell says. “So from a guy who knows what it takes to win, I can’t do anything but sit back and listen.”

    He is proud that Walton, from their first time together in offseason workouts, requested Russell’s voice to break the team’s huddles: “This is the point guard! He’s the leader!” Walton bellowed. “When he speaks, guys, you gotta listen.”

    Russell also is struck by how many veteran NBA players have vouched for Walton’s character. ”You got Luke, man,” they told Russell with unmistakable warmth and even a tinge of jealousy. “You’re gonna be good.”

    After a rookie season that was logically disappointing and uniquely demoralizing, Russell has found a new level of excitement since he appeared at Walton’s introductory news conference.

    A few weeks later, when the Los Angeles Lakers‘ young players were asked to attend a ceremony announcing the naming rights to a new practice facility, Russell couldn’t contain himself.

    While the event figured to see the young Lakers looking like dispirited children sitting through a classical music concert, when Walton was asked to say a few words to the corporate folks, Russell suddenly rose to his feet.

    No one else was standing. Russell didn’t care. He stood for a solid three seconds and applauded.

    It was a surprising show of support, but also of gratitude. Russell feels different than he did before.

    “I feel like I know him, you know what I’m sayin’?” Russell explains to B/R. “I feel like I’ve known him for some years now—and I haven’t.”

    When Russell, 20, describes how it has been to have Walton, 36, on the court with the young Lakers, actually playing basketball with and against them in informal offseason gatherings, the comfort level he has with his new coach is unmistakable.

    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
    D’Angelo Russell has bonded with new Lakers coach Luke Walton, who spent part of his summer playing alongside his new team.

    Russell laughs at the shirts Walton wears—slit at the shoulders to become sleeveless, showcasing the familiar Grateful Dead-inspired tattoo on his right arm honoring his three brothers. Then Russell pushes it further and calls out Walton for his “overly strong Old Spice deodorant.”

    “You can tell him I said that, too,” Russell adds.

    The “give” part of the give-and-take was lacking in Russell’s relationship with Lakers coach Byron Scott, 55, last season. It was missing in every way.

    Yet that only makes Walton’s arrival as the youngest head coach in the NBA more interesting.

    This person uniquely equipped to reach and teach the millennials that pack the Lakers’ post-Kobe Bryant roster is undertaking the most compelling case study in coaching today.

    Walton’s life has been charmed, he freely admits, akin to one long-running wink and smile.

    Two NBA championships with the Lakers. Four NCAA tournament appearances and one Final Four with Arizona. The son of one of the most iconic players in basketball history. There is little joy Walton hasn’t experienced in the game. And few who haven’t wanted to experience it with him. It wasn’t Pau Gasol or Derek Fisher whom Phil Jackson lovingly referred to as his son after the Lakers won in 2009 and ’10, but Walton.

    So popular is Walton that he even found himself avoiding a stalkerwhile with the Lakers during the 2007-08 season.

    That unfortunate turn of events long over, Walton spent the previous two seasons captivating a new team as Steve Kerr’s assistant and resoundingly successful fill-in as Golden State Warriors head coach.

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Walton led the Warriors to a 39-4 start last season while filling in as head coach for Steve Kerr, who was recovering from spinal surgery.

    “He’s got these qualities that are hard to define,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers says. “But you know them when you’re around him.”

    Myers pauses, considers this person he has only known a few years but calls “one of the highest quality people I’ve ever met,” and boils it down to something simple.

    “You know,” Myers said, “that you want to be around him again.”

    Walton is a warm breeze to all he meets, bringing a trust-first mentality that led to an agreement with his wife, Bre, that acquaintances must contact her if they would like to stay over at the Walton home—because Luke always says yes, no matter the circumstances.

    Wind it back further, and you’d see Walton as a kid doing one thing on a Thursday and something entirely different on Friday. Whether beach kids, basketball teammates, troublemaker kids at his school, inner-city kids from other schools…Walton was tight with them all.

    Willing to shrug off some issues and hug out others, Walton found his worlds were always colliding but never crumbling. He navigated social danger zones with freedom and confidence instilled by his mother, Susie, a longtime parenting and relationship counselor in San Diego.

    Growing up so comfortable with various walks of life when many are reflexively fearful of what they don’t understand is rare. When told that isn’t natural, Walton responds simply: ”It was to me.”

    Though it may appear Walton’s welcome nature would make him a doormat for nefariousness in the world, he has a firm foundation for what he thinks and does.

    “Some friends and family would encourage me not to hang out with other friends,” he reflects. “I’ve always been able to find the good in people. And I stand up for them and defend them for who I saw them as.

    “I’ve been told a lot that I do constantly find the good in people. So maybe that’s what makes it easy to relate or connect—because, one, I’m not trying to get things from people; and two, I’m not judging anybody on what they’ve done or the reputations they have.”

    NBA Photos/Getty Images

    Walton has found a sense of comfort no matter who he is around, no matter their background.

    Therein lies the Luke Walton secret to success.

    And he has Kerr’s example to thank for maintaining sweet innocence in a business built by hard-driving, win-at-all-costs coaches.

    Despite his own limited coaching experience, Kerr implored Walton not to fall into the trap of developing some manufactured coaching persona. Players can see right through that crap, Kerr advised.

    After suffering anxiety in the preseason as he settled into his role as interim head coach while Kerr dealt with complications from spinal surgery, Walton coached the Warriors to a 24-0 record, the best start in NBA history. They were 39-4 when Kerr came back, and they wound up setting the league record with a 73-9 regular season.

    Another kind of victory, though, was all Walton’s.

    “Most people would be altered by that experience—in a negative way,” Myers says. “A lot of us would have our chest stuck out a little bit more or arrogance could creep in. And as I told Luke then, it was a testament to him he was the same person—the same exact person—from when he was slotted to be our lead assistant going into the season as he was following his tenure as our head coach. He really didn’t change.”

    Sometimes they take Friday off.

    A trip out of town here and there. That’s about the only slacking the Lakers’ core crew of young players has allowed in recent months.

    Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

    At around 9 a.m., they show up at the team’s training facility. They’re in the weight room together by 10 a.m. They hit the court after that, with pickup sessions and self-improvement lessons almost always bleeding into the afternoon.

    It’s a purely voluntary thing, this Breakfast Club. There’s no group text to see who’s in or who’s out; it’s just standard. Per NBA offseason regulations, Walton can’t mandate anyone attend.

    The accountability is impressive for guys who are supposed to be easily distracted from work at their ages but mostly haven’t been: Brandon Ingram (19), Ivica Zubac (19), Russell (20), Julius Randle (21), Larry Nance Jr. (23), Anthony Brown (23), Jordan Clarkson (24) and Tarik Black (24).

    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Brandon Ingram (far left) has spent part of the summer getting acquainted with his new Lakers teammates, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle at USA Basketball scrimmages and voluntary Lakers workouts.

    The entitlement and instant gratification for which the millennial generation is maligned was pooling somewhere else this summer.

    When Luol Deng, 31, and Timofey Mozgov, 30, show up for training camp to earn their respective $18 million and $16 million salaries as active mentors, they’ll understand immediately whose team this is.

    With Kobe off into retirement, Walton has taken the role of veteran leader, reporting to the team facility with the sort of clockwork consistency for which Bryant was famous. He is tight with Kobe and has reached out for Bryant’s input on a few matters since being hired as Lakers head coach.

    This is Luke’s team now.

    As such, the hope that Walton can develop the kids’ potential was the prevailing topic in the recent Buss family ownership meeting, rather than the possibility Jim Buss will step down at season’s end. The get-together also included a heavy dose of optimism from Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.

    Kupchak and Walton have spent a lot of meaningful time together the past couple months in the office, too—discussing the team as well as helping Walton understand the NBA personnel business better.

    The new era feel also stretches beyond the Lakers executive offices. Longtime Bryant advisers such as trainer Gary Vitti and physical therapist Judy Seto have stepped down—and Kupchak has suddenly embraced a shift toward youth in all sorts of staff positions this summer besides head coach.

    No one would have blamed Walton had he arrived late to witness all the changes, especially after another long playoff run with the Warriors and being back in his beloved Manhattan Beach near his bazillion SoCal friends. But Walton was a regular presence all summer.

    “It goes back to being lucky and blessed in this life,” Walton says. “I’m one of the few people who get to wake up in the morning and loveheading to the office. I mean, absolutely love it.

    “Grab a coffee on your way in. Can’t wait to see the players in there. Get them out on the court and start working on things in a game that I love. I might be young and naive, and when we’re in February and our record’s not that great I won’t feel the same way, but as for right now, which is all you can control, I’m very excited about the future.”

    Black, for one, knew it would be like this.

    Harry How/Getty Images

    He was the main man at the University of Memphis in 2011, when Walton the player first explored becoming Walton the coach. Walton spent over three of the NBA lockout’s five months that year as a Memphis Tigers assistant coach.

    “Coach Luke was the best, man,” Black says. “He was the best. I aspired to accomplish what he had accomplished, and I just sat there and asked him questions all the time. I asked a ton of questions. Mentality. Basketball-wise. People. Everything.”

    It’s much the same now. These young Lakers come in to be with a head coach who wants to be there with them, who even wants to play with them, who wants to help them find their best selves.

    As well as they can, the Lakers will play as the Warriors do—and as Walton did as a highly unselfish, hugely competitive player.

    “His passing ability…oh, my God,” Black says. “He’s still killing us with straight passes. You know he can’t run and jump with us right now. His back is what it is; he can only do so much. Still…how he shares the ball, it’s amazing.”

    Walton even dared to take part in full-court, five-on-five one day during the last week of August. The head coach of the team…running with the guys in the offseason.

    “It shows us what he’s looking for,” Black says. “It’s easier to imitate something than to hear something and try to make it happen. We honestly love it, because how much fun is it to play with your head coach? And talk trash with him.

    “Then you start understanding he really cares. He’s out here playing with us. He’s out here having fun with us. This is someone we can have fun with. That just builds a trust and relationship that you need in order to be successful.

    “That sets the culture of caring. And guys are going to imitate that, too—really imitate that.”

    One of the pertinent reasons Jackson, now 71, stopped coaching back in 2011—right before Walton headed off to Memphis—was that Jackson’s body no longer allowed him to be active on the court as a teacher.

    For a Lakers organization that has turned to Jackson to coach its team time after time, and longed to have him back more times than anyone can count, there may not be a person in the league with a greater measure of Jackson than there is in Walton.

    It is Jackson whom Walton credits for teaching him what an open-minded coach could mean to his players.


    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    “Coach [Lute] Olson always used to ask: ‘What were you thinking?!’ Walton says, recalling his playing days at the University of Arizona. “And if you tried to answer it, he’d say: ‘You always have an excuse for everything.’ So I learned. He’s asking me, but he doesn’t really care what I say; he’s just letting me know he knows I messed up.

    “When I first got to the Lakers, I messed up something in one of the first practices, and Phil was like, ‘Luke! What were you thinking on that?’ I forget what the play was. Something in the triangle. But I didn’t say a word; I’m not falling for this.

    “It was like an awkward silence for 10 seconds. And he was like, ‘No, seriously. Until you tell me what you were thinking, we’re not moving on.’ I still thought he was messing with me. Eventually, I answered him.

    “There are different styles of coaching. For me, I like the back and forth. Especially at this level. These are some of the best players in the world. They didn’t just get here by accident. They’re really good at what they do. And sometimes they have ideas that might be different from what we do but might work better with the personnel we have.”

    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Prodded to offer his thoughts while with the Lakers, Walton learned to appreciate the worldview Phil Jackson brought to coaching.

    Warriors All-Star Draymond Green praises Walton for his ability to manage that line between authority and community. But Green also wants it known that Walton is more than a good guy.

    “He’s a chill guy, but he’s a smart guy,” Green told B/R last season. “He’s got a brilliant basketball mind. That’s what makes him special.”

    (And Green remains close enough friends with Walton that he can quite pointedly ask him how Walton is going to deal with all the losing that is coming.)

    Myers refers to Walton innately being able to see basketball developments multiple steps before they appear. But Myers adds it’s more than that: Walton’s ability to connect with Green, for example, is a product of Walton’s broad and deep understanding of how all things in the NBA work.

    “Having been reared by Bill or just through osmosis from growing up around the game of basketball, Luke understands it,” Myers says. “And he has this ability to process the NBA in a really healthy way. I think the Lakers players, especially, will enjoy him because he’s not agenda-driven, he’s not self-promoting.”

    That appears to be exactly what Russell has been looking for in a coach.

    “I feel like the most successful coaches are players’ coaches,” Russell says. “I feel like 90 percent of what they learn throughout their career is from us. It’s not from the next coach or the next assistant coach or the next basketball guru; it’s from the players. The players that you have are going to teach you to be the best you can be. I feel like that’s where it’s at in this era.”

    Consider how Russell talks about Jackson:

    “Phil was Phil, but I feel like those players took his game to the next level. Coaches teach…then players can put their own tweaks to it, and it still gets the job done. At that time, Kobe and Shaq [O'Neal] made it so much easier.”

    By playing for Jackson’s title teams, Walton might have more cachet as a coach with this generation than the actual man called the Greatest Coach Ever.

    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Having played part of nine seasons with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, and parts of two with Cleveland (minus LeBron James), there is little in the NBA Walton hasn’t experienced.

    Don’t misinterpret Russell’s position as indicative of some overall millennial disdain for the coaching profession, though.

    Studies show that millennials want to be coached and are used to being coached. Per a 2014 SuccessFactors survey (h/t Harvard Business Review), they want more feedback and help in personal development. Their generation is less self-reliant and raised with greater structure and supervision from more involved parents.

    So millennials will accept authority—if it’s the right kind.

    A survey for the AARP’s Leading a Multigenerational Workforcepublication found that millennials prefer to work for managers who appreciate personal goals, can be positive educators, are comfortable offering support and create a collaborative organizational structure.

    If you don’t fit that bill, it might be impossible for you to gain their trust. Only 19 percent of millennials says that most people can be trusted, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

    Walton gets it.

    “He is a kid,” Walton says of Russell. “A lot of these guys are kids. They went to one year of college and now they live in L.A. and play for the Lakers at 19 years old. It’s crazy to me to think of even trying to succeed under those conditions.

    “When I was 19, I was getting ready for my second year of college. I still didn’t even know how to pay my own bills or set up my cable, and these guys are literally playing for the Lakers. So I already have a tremendous amount of respect for these guys that are doing that.”

    Walton has struck the right chord with this baby-faced Lakers squad so far, according to Russell.

    “I look at him more as a big brother figure,” Russell says of his new coach. “I can’t say father figure. Not just like an old guy walking around…or a guy who is just talking and talking.”

    How ingrained is it in Walton to have a healthy give-and-take in his relationships?

    Walton confesses he didn’t feel as much magic as he expected when his first child, son Lawson, was born two years ago. A newborn baby can participate in only so much.

    “Now I’m starting to get the whole children-are-the-greatest-thing-of-all-time thing,” Walton says, laughing. “At first, I was like, ‘Maybe I’m just a s–tty human being.’”

    Lawson is learning to read with Luke. Lawson picks out a book each night. They sing little songs to go with certain books.

    It’s priceless stuff, and it affirms for Walton that maybe after thinking of himself as a player for so long, he was actually meant to be a coach.

    Russell has been an eager pupil, texting Walton to ask about Golden State playoff alignments for Stephen Curry or what angle a play was run at or just to say he’s pumped to run a specific set.

    He’s also stumbled across a few old games on NBA TV in which he found a familiar face.

    “I’ll see Coach playing, and he’ll do something crazy, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh!’” Russell says. “And I’ll record it and send it to him, and he’ll laugh about it.

    “I told him I remember playing with him on (NBA) 2K; I used to always play as him. I’m a fan. I’m definitely a fan. Because he was a point forward. I can’t speak on Elgin Baylor and all those guys, but my era, I know he was a point forward.”

    Then there were the phone calls from Russell to Walton after every summer league game, followed by the conversations reviewing the game clips Walton pulled to show and teach Russell.

    “There were times when he had excuses for why he did things, which is great,” Walton says. “Open communication is the best way to learn, I think, so we can argue about what I think and he thinks—and the best way to move forward. It’s been like that nonstop.”

    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Walton has quickly learned the differences in communicating with this Lakers team compared to the Lakers club he played for from 2003-12.

    The same exchanges are building with Ingram, Randle, Clarkson, Nance and the others, and Walton has already learned how best to have them.

    He has to be on call for the guys when they reach out. And if their headphones happen to be off, he must have a direct-strike mentality with his lessons.

    “As soon as you see that interest fade, you’re out,” he says, chuckling.

    Still, Walton is not one of this age, and he understands that.

    He rolls his eyes at the fascination with social media, and he is old enough to keep what he calls his “basketball journal” of valuable ideas he gets from reading books, talking to fellow coaches or just musing on his own.

    “Pen and paper,” he says. “Can you believe that?!”

    However he can teach them, old or new school, Walton is determined to do it.

    He already is.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 7:49 AM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great to see Kevin Ding back to covering the Lakers.
      Terrific read by the best sports writer covering the NBA.

      • Seely_Iggy (Director)

        Seely_Iggy (Director) 7:58 AM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Agree, good read.

        • LakerTom (Publisher) 8:14 AM on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Hard not to be enthused at the Lakers prospects after reading Ding.
          He still has a knack and insight for story telling that is unique.
          I love the little points, like Luke having Russell break huddles.
          You never get those kind of important insights from other writers.

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