Bill Walton is one of the greatest basketball players to ever walk the earth, but right now, his son, Luke, is the most high-profile branch of the Walton family tree. That’s because Luke has helped the Golden State Warriors (32-2) to the greatest start in NBA history.
“There’s nothing greater than the pride of a dad to see young children do so well, to see him be able to be part of something so very special,” Walton said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Tiki, you and I have spent our lives in sports. You’re on a great team. You’ve got a great coach. The big moments – to see your child be out there, to have that same type of experience and to understand how valuable that is, (how) enjoyable that is and how fun it is.”
Luke, in fact, has now won more NBA titles than his dad. Bill won two titles – one with Portland and one with Boston. Luke won two with the Lakers as a player and one with the Warriors as an assistant.
Luke, by the way, is still only 35.
“In any aspect of life – whether it’s sports, whether its business, whether it’s technology, you want talent over experience all the time,” Walton said. “To have both is great. But if you’re going to have one, always choose talent. Luke was very fortunate in his life to have four incredibly special coaches along the way.”
Those coaches include Lute Olson at Arizona and Phil Jackson in the NBA. Luke was also able to play with Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and others and is now the head coach of the “gold standard” in basketball while Steve Kerr recovers from back surgery.
“We all love Steve Kerr,” Walton said. “I’ve gown up with Steve Kerr. Steve was a ball boy at UCLA. Steve played for Lute Olson. Steve played for Phil Jackson. Steve played with Michel Jordan.”
The Warriors play four of their next five on the road, beginning with the Lakers (8-27) at Staples Center on Jan. 5. Kobe Bryant, 37, leads the Lakers in scoring with 17.2 points per game.
“Kobe’s doing great,” Walton said. “I’m such a fan. I’m happy for him that things are going as well as they possibly can. Kobe’s been playing a really long time at the highest levels.”
He has, but the Lakers are going to miss the playoffs for the third straight season. How long will it take for Los Angeles to right the ship?
“You’re talking about in Jerry Buss the greatest owner in the history of all team sports,” Walton said, “but anybody will tell you, you’ve got to have the players. You’ve got to have the best players, and right now, the best players are in Golden State, they’re with LeBron and they’re in San Antonio. Until the Lakers get the best players like when they had Elgin and Jerry and Wilt and Kareem and Magic and Jamaal and Shaq and Kobe and Karl and Gary and Rick Fox and Robert Horry – until they get those (type of) players, it’s not going to happen. You can make all he strategic designs and play-calling that you want, but unless you have those great players who can deliver, you have no chance.”