Luke Walton is excited, not nervous, about the prospect of coaching LeBron James.
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton will have extremely different expectations this season. His franchise added the best player in the world, and they’ll now be expected to contend for a championship. That’s what happens when you add a player to your team who has made it to the NBA Finals eight years in a row.
LeBron James is officially in the Bill Russell orbit of superstars in NBA history. Walton isn’t feeling the pressure though.
“You’ve got to remember, I’ve played with Kobe and Shaq, “Walton told Spectrum Sportsnet. “I grew up in a household where Larry Bird was coming over in the summer time. It’s more excitement of having the opportunity as opposed to feeling any nerves or pressure of having someone of his caliber.”
This is only Walton’s third season as a head coach. But he was an assistant on the Golden State Warriors before joining the Lakers, and so he knows what it’s like to be around a roster full of stars, who each have a lot of personality.
Los Angeles certainly has one star now, and they aren’t short on personalities either. Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson, and JaVale McGee should create some truly interesting stories this season. That’s not even factoring in the additional attention that James and Lonzo Ball/LaVar Ball will draw to the team.
Some in the media often joke that James becomes the head coach and GM of any team that he joins, but Walton appears to have enough confidence to still assert his coaching style even around a supernova like LeBron. If the Lakers can make it to the Western Conference Finals this year, then it will probably be regarded as a success. But LeBron will expect more than that, and if they make the playoffs, then that is when the pressure will start to set in for Luke Walton.