Luke Walton was hired as the 26th head coach in Lakers franchise history, and the 22nd in the Los Angeles era, on April 29, 2016. The 36-year-old joins George Mikan, Jim Pollard, Jerry West, Pat Riley, Magic Johnson, Kurt Rambis, and Byron Scott as the eighth individual to both play and coach for the organization.
Walton rejoins the Lakers family after spending two seasons as an assistant coach on Steve Kerr’s staff with the Golden State Warriors. In his two years in Golden State, the team appeared in consecutive NBA Finals and won the 2015 NBA Championship. Stepping into the interim head coaching position for Kerr, who was forced to take a medical leave of absence from the team, to begin the 2015-16 campaign, Walton oversaw a 39-4 start to the season that included winning the first 24 consecutive games of the year, an NBA record. The team’s 73-9 regular season record stands as the best mark in NBA history, and Walton finished ninth in Coach of the Year voting, even though he was not eligible for the award.
Prior to his time with the Warriors, Walton served as a player development coach for the Los Angeles D-Fenders during the 2013-14 season. He began his formal experience in the coaching realm during the 2011 NBA lockout, when he served as an assistant coach at the University of Memphis.
The San Diego native enjoyed a 10-year NBA playing career (2003-13) with the Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and was an integral part of Los Angeles’ NBA championship teams in 2009 and 2010. Originally selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, Walton averaged 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 564 regular season games (138 starts). He made the postseason seven times (all with the Lakers), logging 88 postseason appearances (12 starts), and represented Los Angeles in the Shooting Stars Competition at the 2005 All-Star Weekend.
Walton played collegiately at the University of Arizona for Hall-of-Fame coach Lute Olson, leaving the Pac-10 as one of only three players in conference history to tally 1,000 career points, 500 rebounds, and 500 assists. He was named an All Pac-10 performer twice in his four year career (1999-2003), and was a Wooden Award Finalist as a senior. His best statistical season came as a junior, where he posted averages of 15.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists, earning his selection to four All-America teams, including being one of 10 players to receive John R. Wooden Award All-American honors.
Walton’s father, Bill, is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was named one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players. The father/son duo are the only pair in NBA history to both win multiple NBA titles. Walton’s three brothers (Nate, Adam, and Chris) all played basketball in college, and he cites his mother Susie as the person he most admires for raising four boys.
Luke and his wife Bre, who he originally met at Arizona where she was a standout volleyball player, have two children: son Lawson and daughter Landen.