The last two years, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton was in the NBA Finals as a member of the Golden State Warriors coaching staff. His role in helping the team get there — especially when he shepherded the team to a 39-4 start in head coach Steve Kerr’s absence due to complications from back surgery — was what helped him land his job with the Lakers last summer.
Walton may no longer be serving the Warriors in any official capacity this year, and isn’t able to roam the sidelines now that Kerr’s back issues have left him absent from Golden State’s playoff run, but those factors haven’t kept him from supporting his former boss.
When the Warriors were getting set to take on the San Antonio Spurs in game one of the Western Conference Finals, Walton and his family were there visiting with Kerr and the rest of the organization, according to Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News.
Now in the NBA Finals, Walton is back with Sam Amick of USA Today reporting he watched game one of the NBA Finals in the locker room with Kerr. It’s unknown if Walton plans to stay with the team or if this was a one-game thing.
No matter how dominant the Warriors looked in game one, this has to be an incredibly hard situation for Kerr to sit and watch. Even as someone who deals with chronic back issues myself, I still can’t even imagine how much pain Kerr must be in to have to skip coaching in the NBA Finals. Walton quietly (he isn’t giving quotes to the media about it, it’s just come out) supporting his friend and mentor through such a difficult time is offers a reminder of why there is basically no one on the planet with a bad word to say about him.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.