Bernstein met Walton when Luke was four years old and his father, Bill Walton, was playing for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Walton recalls playing basketball with his brothers and his Dad, Bill Walton, who didn’t hold back when on the court. He also shares anecdotes about the tepee his family kept in the yard and dressing in free NBA swag every day.
From his basketball-filled childhood, Walton recounts how he decided to commit to playing basketball at the University of Arizona. Despite his father’s legendary NBA presence, Luke said he never felt pressured to step on the court.
“He pushed us to find what we were passionate about in life whether that was music, education, sports…he never once pushed us to basketball, he let us find it,” Walton said.
Walton played eight and half seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two championships.
“I think one of the main things that I take with me is the amount of joy he got when teaching others, towards the end of his career,” Walton said.
He played under coach Phil Jackson and recalls some of his favorite moments, including playing alongside Kobe Bryant for eight years.
“The first one in Orlando, we had been to the Finals in ‘04 and lost and had been fighting to get back there ever since. What it felt like when the Finals buzzer sounded was what really sticks out in my mind,” Walton said of the 2009 Lakers Championship.
After a serious back injury, Walton hung up his jersey and switched his career to coaching. He recounts how Phil Jackson took him under his wing to show him the detail and planning that goes on behind each play.
“I try to put a big emphasis on the communication and relationship me and my coaching staff have with the players. I reach out to the players throughout the week,” Walton said. “It’s not just about basketball.”
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