Luke Walton Rumors
ESPN says Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Artis Gilmore, World B. Free, Robert Parish, Jim Gray, Luke Walton, Jamal Wilkes, Brent Musberger, and Bob Ryan have all been interview subjects for the story. The documentary will be directed by Steve James, who also directed Hoop Dreams, as well as Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. No release date was revealed by ESPN.
Speaking on Bleacher Report’s “Open Run” podcast Wednesday, the new Lakers coach told a story about his playing days with Bryant. “I remember one time my rookie year, I came in a little — uh, (Bryant) and Shaq like to do this as, I think it was just rookies, but any young guy — I probably had too much to drink the night before, so I came in, I was a rookie, I felt good, and they could smell some alcohol on me. And Kobe informed the rest of the team that no one was allowed to help me on defense, and that I had to guard him the entire practice.
“I was laughing at first like, ‘Oh, this is funny,’ but in Kobe’s mind, in his eyes, it was like, ‘No, I see and smell weakness, I’m going to destroy you today.’ He taught me that lesson. He probably scored 70-something in practice that day, and I was begging for help, none of the teammates would help. But, yeah, his killer instinct and his work ethic, they’ll stick with me forever.”
What is your relationship with J.B. like? How far does that go back, and what is it now like to be here in Cleveland? Luke Walton: Yeah, it goes back years. A big reason for taking this job was because of that relationship and just getting to coach with somebody that I really respect and somebody that I really enjoy being around. When I played in the league, J.B. used to come out to San Diego and train me and a bunch of my teammates in the offseason. So he would come out for a couple of weeks every summer, and we would go to the local gym in San Diego, and he would train us and work us out. And we’ve been very good friends ever since. Like I said, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to get to work with him.
You came to a practice in Cleveland during the regular season last year. What was the process like over the offseason to be hired as an assistant? Luke Walton: When I came out here the first time, I was really just coming out to watch J.B. coach. I coached against him, and as a player, I’ve worked out with him. But as anything you’re doing; you’re always trying to learn. And I wasn’t working, and I called him, and he said, ‘Come out, come to every practice, every film, whatever you want, just come.’ So that’s all I was out here to do was to learn. We didn’t talk about working together at all while I was here. And he does an unbelievable job. I was really impressed with how he runs his team.
Luke Walton: During the playoffs, at some point, we were just talking about what we were seeing, just talking basketball, and it came up if I would have any interest to come out here and coach on his staff. That was kind of the groundwork. We talked a few more times after that, just about goals and visions, and obviously, I have a family, so I had to run it by the family. Once the family was on board and excited and what he envisioned me doing as far as being able to help lined up, it was an easy decision for me.