Turning the Los Angeles Lakers around is a tall task for any coach, let alone a rookie, but Luke Walton feels he is ready for the job.
Walton was introduced as the new head coach of the Lakers on Tuesday, and he made it clear he felt lucky to get a chance to coach his former team.
“When I got a job offer and I went home and realized it was from the L.A. Lakers — that kind of blew my mind,” Walton said.
The former Lakers player has his work cut out for him as a coach, with the team coming off a 17-65 season and without Kobe Bryant for the first time since 1996.
But challenges aside, Walton could not be happier coaching anywhere else.
“Everything excites me,” Walton said. “We have young talented players. We have draft picks. We have $60-70million in free agency. We have one of the best fanbases of all time.”
Walton has led a charmed basketball life, surrounded by great basketball minds.
His father is Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton. He played for Lute Olsen at Arizona. He played for Phil Jackson in the NBA. And he helped Steve Kerr lead the Golden State Warriors to two straight NBA Finals appearances, winning a title in 2015.
The only time luck has not been on Walton’s side was when he had to give up the 39 wins in 43 games he accumulated when he had to step in for Kerr early last season.
“Life’s not fair, but I think I’ve been on the good side of fair for most of my life, so I’m not gonna complain about stuff like that,” Walton said.
“It’s the decision that was made, but 0-0 helped me get my dream job.”
That dream is now a reality. The question will be whether or not he can keep it from turning into a nightmare like the past couple of seasons have been for the purple and gold. Walton thinks that his time under Kerr will definitely help.
“We see the game very similar,” Walton said of Kerr. “There’s differences that you can get into, but for the most part we’re cut from the same cloth.”
If Walton can get similar results in Los Angeles to what Kerr has been able to get in Oakland, fans of the purple and gold will be very happy.