Luke Walton’s burst into bloom

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After the final buzzer of the Golden State Warriors’ record 16th-straight victory to start the NBA season Tuesday, interim head coach Luke Walton went and hugged Lakers guard emeritus and former teammate Kobe Bryant. The embrace was appropriate and real. Luke rubbed Kobe’s head on the dismount and they exchanged a grin as if the following exchange had occurred: ‘Come here Kobe.” “No, you come here Luke.”

By Andrew Pridgen

At 16-0 is Luke Walton this good?

Yes, Luke Walton is this good.

Good enough, for example, for me to no longer refer to him as Luke Wilson.

Less than a month ago, I had a conversation (OK ghcat) that went like this:

ghcat friend: What do you think of Steve Kerr?

me: I don’t.

gchat friend: His back surgery. He can’t coach.

me: I think he can coach OK. I have a problem with back surgery though.

gchat friend: What’s your problem with back surgery?

me: I mean if you need it because your back’s fucked up because you fell off a scaffold, that’s fine. But there are too many fucking lazy people who have back problems. Like everything’s a back problem. Everyone who ever worked for the county has a back problem.

gchat friend: Yeah, and then chiropractors.

…We talked back and forth for awhile about how chiropractors are quacks and refer to themselves as doctors for no reason. That moved to how they’re making another Gilmore Girls and about whether Los Angeles could actually be a spaceship because it feels kind of like that when you’re there and what the actual difference between Hüsker Dü and Camper Van Beethoven is. The answer: Hüsker Dü is Bob Mould, Grant Hart and Greg Norton and Camper Van is David Lowery, Victor Krummenacher, Greg Lisher and Chris Pedersen…so different dudes, for starters. And about how I thought Mould worked with Camper Van but he didn’t, he just went straight to Sugar and fucking Copper Blue is the best album ever.

After that, we took it back to the Warriors and I referred to Luke Walton as Luke Wilson a half dozen times before my gchat friend was like, “No. Not the dude in Home Fries.”

And then I remembered Home Fries was written by Vince Gilligan for a screenwriting class (Google confirmed)—which makes sense because the story arc is very Syd Field first script-y except Vince Gilligan is too fucking good and he got something that should be in the bottom of his sock drawer made and well, I don’t know if Luke Wilson really wants to be remembered for that (Bottle Rocket or even My Super Ex-Girlfriend would be better and I thought he was quietly great in The Skeleton Twins. Luke Wilson should be made to wear flannel in every film).

And now that guy Luke Walton (who I know is Bill Walton’s son and went to U of A and was a senior forward when Andre Iguodala was a Freshman forward and has two NBA titles as a player and one as an assistant coach and still has that sort of four Shakedown Street skeletons dancing around without the suits tattoo on his shoulder and married a really hot volleyball player also from U of A) basically is going to have to be on the top of the NBA teams in need of a coach wish-list this Christmas. Which pretty much means he’s going to be in Philly this time next year as they currently have as many losses as the undefeated team he’s interim head-coaching for because, you know, back problems.

And there’s this other whole conversation we got into. Like how the NFL proselytizes its next It Coach as shaking off a branch of the Bill Walsh coaching tree as if that’s enough to justify rooting for a guy who’s going to get paid a couple mil/year to wear a visor and yell on cue when he pretty much doesn’t know how to turn his own printer on? You can just tell NFL head coaches, besides Belichick, are fucking dumb.

But the NBA coaching tree is what impresses me more. And the branch Luke Walton built his little temporary interim nest on is what I like to call it the Lute Olson/Gregg Popovich/Phil Jackson with a sprinkle of Mike D’Antoni Miracle Grow arm.

So it’s like the triangle offense which a total of three people understand (Walton being one of them, Phil Jackson the second and Tex Winter, the crazy/reclusive inventor the third) combined with D’Antoni’s Seven Seconds Or Less philosophy which is get the ball up the court and get a shot off in fewer than seven seconds so the defense can’t set up. And that’s insane. It’s like playing fucking speed chess against Kasparov or getting into a Rubik’s Cube-off with a Google intern who got robot hands installed. The Warriors are fast plus complex plus doing it with players Jerry West created in his lab. Fucking insane.

And Luke Walton is so not backing down from the genius part of it: “We are gonna run parts of the triangle offense, and I know that thing front and back,” he said in a presser right after joining the Warriors when Kerr brought him on as second assistant in July, 2014—or one championship/total team image makeover ago. NOBODY knows the triangle offense front and back, because, you know, it’s a triangle.

See what he did there?

Reigning NBA Finals MVP Iguodala, who had a season coming off the bench in Tucson for Walton said some cryptic sports-type shit in a recent interview about his interim HC: “Just knowing who he is kind of says it all. It’s kind of hard to explain it all because he’s so quiet, he’s reserved. But more like family to me.”

You get that? Iggy is confused by the quiet genius of a man who’s more like a peer or a contemporary but not really. It’s like how Hemingway admired Fitzgerald even though, he was, uh—probably actually a better writer.

Anyway, this is all a really long-winded way of saying, Luke Wilson Walton, is a genius and Kerr should probably retire and go buy one of those walkers with tennis balls and just sit back and enjoy the genius burst into bloom with the rest of us.

Now back to Copper Blue.

Image: NBA.com

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