The world of professional sports can be an intense one, particularly in this day and age with the rise of social media. Today, it’s difficult for players to hide their celebrity in a world that has a 24-hour news cycle and access to stars like never before. That isn’t the world that Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton grew up in, though.
Walton’s father, Bill, was one of the best players to ever lace up a pair of high-tops. He was the NBA MVP in 1978 and won two NBA championships, one with the Portland Trailblazers in 1977 and one with the Boston Celtics in 1986. He was also a two-time NCAA champion in 1972 and 1973 at UCLA and is currently in the Hall of Fame, yet son Luke was relatively unaware of just how massive his father’s celebrity status was until he reached Jr. High. He explained the situation to Dan Patrick on his radio show:
Dan Patrick: When did you realize how famous your dad was?
Luke Walton: Ummm, probably in Jr. High, High School. You know, I always remember being a kid and people stopping and asking for pictures but I just didn’t really get it until I got a little older and I got really into basketball myself. I as playing in camps, and then people would tell me everywhere I go, “Do you have any idea how great your dad was?” and I’d be like, “no”.
While it’s a bit surprising to hear that Luke wasn’t all that aware of his father’s celebrity, in the age before social media in the internet one could understand how it would be possible. Bill Walton has always been an eccentric individual and doesn’t seem to be the type of person that would flaunt his celebrity status.
This down-to-earth upbringing undoubtedly helped Luke become such a selfless NBA player, always looking to make the right play for teammates. It’s also helped shape his coaching career, as he can easily relate to just about anyone, whether it be team personnel or superstar athletes. Luke grew up around the game without being exposed to superstardom, and that appears to have helped make him into the coach he is today.