When Luke Walton accepted the job to be the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, he understood what he was getting into.
After serving as an interim head coach for a large chunk of the historic 73-win 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors regular season campaign, Walton overtook a young, inexperienced team in a rebuilding franchise.
So far this season, his experience in L.A. has been marked with a bunch of losses. In fact, the team fell to 20-50 with a Sunday night loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is among the worst marks in the entire NBA.
Despite coming into the job with small expectations for this season in particular, Walton, who was on two championship-winning teams as a player for the Lakers and one as an assistant with the Warriors, revealed to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes that there were a couple of low points for him this season.
On December 14, the Lakers fell to the lowly Nets in Brooklyn, losing their eighth game in a row. “'And I had all the tricks I had in the bag as far as different ways to get the team out of a funk,' Walton says. 'I had tried all of them. And we just kept losing and losing.’He stared at the ceiling of his New York hotel room, telling himself, ‘This is crazy, you know what we've got to do. Let's keep [at it]. And still, it took a while to even be aware of it to get myself out of that low.’ He adds, ‘I know this is what I signed up for, but I was dark.’”
Apparently NBA coaches don’t take losing to the Nets very well.
He also had a similar experience after a 149-106 loss to the Warriors back on November 23. In that game, the Warriors set a franchise record with 47 assists on 53 field goals.
"It sucks for all these other teams. From the other side, I didn't think about it. I was enjoying what we were doing. And then when they're just making 3 after 3 after 3 and you're sitting there on the other bench and the crowd is going nuts, you definitely have that realization, like, damn. This is what it feels like," he said.
It was at that point that he realized the Splash Brothers were no longer playing for him and that things were a lot more difficult with such a raw, unproven group of players under his wing.
Despite the few low points and stark realizations that he’s had, Walton appears grateful for his opportunity to coach one of the most historic franchises in all of sports.
"The core of the job is awesome," he told Holmes. "I get to get in my car every day and I love coming to work -- and not many people get to do that. Coming into the building is exciting, every day, no matter how many we've lost or won. Again, the outliers make life frustrating at times and you can't sleep at night and you don't have an appetite, but that's short lived. Everything else in life is awesome still.”
While the Lakers likely won’t be relevant for another couple of seasons while they develop their young talent, there might be no better man for the job than Bill Walton’s son.