After two years of coaching a rebuilding Los Angeles Lakers team, head coach Luke Walton will now be tasked with one of the most intimidating jobs in the NBA: coaching LeBron James.
Walton will be James’ sixth head coach in his illustrious 15-year career, adding to a list that already includes Paul Silas, Mike Brown, Erik Spoelstra, David Blatt and most recently Tyronn Lue, who James won an NBA championship with in 2016.
After James’ camp announced he was signing a four-year deal with the Lakers, Walton reportedly reached out to Lue to set up a day where he, along with Lakers associate head coach Brian Shaw could discuss what it’s like to coach the four-time league MVP.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, that date has been set up for Monday.
Lue also told McMenamin that the point he wants to get across in his meeting with Walton and Shaw is that while a lot has been made of the pressure that will be on Walton, James isn’t a tough guy to coach. Like, at all:
“I just want to let him know, the s--- that people say and you read, Bron’s not like that,” Lue said. “Like, they make it seem like he’s hard on the coach, he’s hard on [the organization]. He’s nothing like that. That’s the most important thing I want to convey with him: that he’s not like that.
”My biggest thing is the zoo comes from just the outside media. It’s really not coming from within because everybody he deals with -- Maverick [Carter], Randy [Mims], all those guys -- are professional. So it won’t be no problem from any of those guys, and Bron carries himself the right way. So the biggest part is just having to deal with the media scrutiny. But he’s not like that. I don’t want people thinking Bron’s an a--h--- or Bron’s this and that because he’s not.”
Walton is no stranger to media scrutiny. Last season, during the Lakers’ second-longest losing streak in team history, ESPN published an article reporting Walton had lost the Lakers’ locker room using LaVar Ball as their primary source.
Suffice to say, Walton is ready for whatever comes his way.
However, that doesn’t mean Walton will stop trying to get every advantage he can. It’s for that reason he’s already spoken to Spoelstra, as well as James’ former teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, who Walton coached for just nine games last season, according to McMenamin.
The jury is still out on Walton and whether or not he’s the right guy to coach a star-led Lakers team, but from the looks of it, he’s doing everything he can to set up his team up for success. As a fan and player, that’s really all you can ask for.
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