Professional basketball can be inherently divisive, with organizations ruthlessly competing against each other. However, some things are bigger than sports rivalries, like being there for a mentor during a difficult time. Such is the case of Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton and Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr, who is currently sidelined due to lingering back problems.
For the past six weeks, Kerr has been unable to lead his team due to his chronic back pain, which he has been fighting for years. The hope is that he will be able to return soon, possibly even in time for Game Two of the NBA Finals, but nothing is certain. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, Walton has been there to support his friend:
This is the unwelcome reality for Kerr, who continues to agonize over his six-week absence and wonder why he can’t just get back to work. One minute he’s talking to his team during practice, and maybe even forgetting about those painful symptoms caused by his botched back surgery two summers ago. The next he’s stuck in the locker room during Game 1 of the NBA Finals, watching on a television with friend, former Warriors assistant and current Lakers head coach Luke Walton by his side.
Before accepting the Lakers offer to become their coach, Walton was an assistant under Kerr in Golden State, and even acted as the head coach during the first half of the 2015-2016 season while Kerr recovered from surgery that he hoped would help his back.
Of course, Kerr’s Warriors and Walton’s Lakers are currently at opposite ends of the NBA spectrum. The Warriors remain undefeated through 13 playoff games while the Lakers missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season, but the hope is that eventually, the Lakers will rebuild and return to the top of the NBA mountain.