Lakers: Getting to Know New Head Coach Luke Walton

November 2, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton smiles during the first quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Grizzlies 119-69. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
November 2, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton smiles during the first quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Grizzlies 119-69. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Most know Luke Walton as either Bill Walton‘s son, ex-Lakers’ forward or assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors. But what else do you know about him?

Born on March 28, 1980, before Luke Theodore Walton was head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers he had quite the interesting career. Named after his father’s close friend and former Portland Trail Blazers teammate Maurice Lucas, Luke is one of Bill Walton‘s four sons.

If you are from Tucson, Arizona, the name Luke Walton is synonymous with the words ‘Wildcats Legend.’

Walton started his college career in 1999 playing for Hall of Fame Coach Lute Olson playing along side the likes of other NBA standouts, Richard Jefferson and Gilbert Arenas. Jefferson was rumored to possibly become an assistant coach on the Lakers, but his Cleveland Cavalier fans and teammates pleaded with him to play one more year.

In terms of his college legacy, Walton’s most memorable year was his sophomore season in 2000. The Wildcats were the No. 2 seed in Midwest and earned their way to the Final Four, where they ultimately lost to No. 1 Duke in the National Title Game(82-72).

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In 2003, he played with Andre Iguodala at Arizona who he ironically ended up coaching during his stint with the Golden State Warriors. It was at Arizona where he earned the endearment ‘Luuuuuuuuuke’ when he made a play or stepped onto the McKale Center court.

After his college days, Walton was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round, 32nd overall in the 2003 NBA draft.

Walton played forward for ten seasons in the NBA, after completing four years playing at the University of Arizona. Walton has won three NBA Championships, one with the Golden State Warriors as an assistant coach and two with the Los Angeles Lakers as a player.

Almost everyone in Southern California has heard of NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton, the famous former Bruin and Boston Celtic center who announces Pac-12 basketball games but his son Luke is more of a mystery. Interestingly, Bill and Luke Walton were the first father and son to have both won multiple NBA championships.

Before his time with the Warriors, Luke served as assistant coach for Memphis University and for the Los Angeles D-Fenders. What most people may not know is that Luke coached in Memphis under his former Arizona Wildcat teammate, Josh Pastner.

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Luke also tried his hand at sports broadcasting on Time Warner Cable SportsNet, which fans enjoyed but Luke always had coaching in his blood, which should have LA fans thanking their lucky stars.

Former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson started mentoring Luke for a future coaching job while Luke was playing for him and according to Metta World Peace, he was already coaching him while they were on the bench together.

Last season, Luke got his first start as the head coach for the Golden State Warriors when his boss and fellow former Wildcat Steve Kerr was rehabilitating his back injury. The 2015 Warriors season brought national attention to Luke and his team. The broke the following records:

  • The second game Walton coached his team scored the third-largest margin of victory in franchise history when the Warriors defeated the Memphis Grizzlies (119–69)
  • The win over the Grizzlies was the largest margin in the league since 1991
  • The Warriors set a new NBA record by winning their first four games by a total margin of 100 points
  • Luke coached the Warriors to 16 straight victories to start the season beating his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, on November 24, 2015 (a new NBA record).
  • By the time the Warriors reached a record of 39–4, the had the second-best start in NBA history but sadly, Walton did not even get credit for the 39 wins
  • The Warriors ended the season with an NBA-record of 73–9

On April 29, 2016, the Lakers organization announced the Luke Walton would be the new Lakers Head Coach. His proud dad Bill Walton posted this tweet in response to the announcement:

Luke married his long-time girlfriend and former Arizona Wildcat Bre Ladd. Bre was also an athlete at Arizona. She was a standout middle blocker on the university’s volleyball team. The couple has two children, one just recently came into the world after the Vegas Summer League play.

Walton recently spoke about the transition from his Assistant Coach position on the Warriors to the Head Coach position on the Lakers and his thoughts on the team’s future. It’s a three-part interview from the Access Lakers TV show, here’s part two:

According to his interviews, Walton’s focus is going to be on how the team plays and if the players are growing alone, but more so, as a team. The Purple and Gold’s culture is about to change, and we think it’s for the best.

Next: Better Frontcourt, LAL or Minnesota Timberwolves?

It sure is exciting to have a coach who fundamentally understands how a team can be successful. It may take a couple of years, but this is a huge step in the right direction.