LeBron James has officially signed on with the Los Angeles Lakers and in just a few months, he will be playing under head coach Luke Walton, who was drafted 31 picks after James in the 2003 NBA Draft. And while Walton obviously didn’t enjoy the same individual success as James during his nine-year career, he managed to pick up a pair of championships playing alongside Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles for eight seasons.
Walton also received a ring as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors in 2015, giving him as many rings as James, not that anyone is counting.
Walton will now have the unique opportunity of working with another all-time NBA great in James over the next few years, and it sounds like he’s ready for the challenge.
In an interview with Lakers sideline reporter Mike Trudell, Walton talked about what it’s like to be in the company of players like Bryant and James, as well as the similarities he sees between the two future hall of famers:
“The thing that they all have in common is their work ethic. Some players have the skill, some players work hard and don’t have the natural talent, and when you’re talking about Kobe, LeBron, guys of that nature, they have the natural ability, they have the brains and they have the work ethic to go on top of it. He (James) was up at 6 a.m. working out before we had breakfast that day. So even though it’s the offseason he’s already getting after it every day, and like I said, I’m looking forward to this season.”
The other thing Bryant and James have in common that Walton forgot to mention? They are both legal owners of the Toronto Raptors (Editor’s Note: Not actually, but basically, yeah).
But in all seriousness, even with his vast experience working alongside all-time NBA greats, Walton is doing everything he can to prepare himself for his first season coaching James. Leading up to his face-to-face meeting with James, Walton reportedly reached out to Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue and Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to pick their brains about coaching James.
So far, all signs point to Walton and James having a successful working relationship. However, that could all change if the Lakers get off to a rough start with their band of misfits.
For Walton’s sake, and the team’s, let’s hope the Lakers hit the ground running in September.