When the Los Angeles Lakers fired former head coach Byron Scott and replaced him with Luke Walton soon after, most fans of the team rejoiced, immediately embracing Walton as the team’s latest savior.
It was easy to see why at first. Not only was Walton a fan favorite as a player and seemingly instantly embraced by his team, but he also led the Lakers to a 10-10 start last season. It appeared to prove the hype around him justified.
Since then, the team has mostly struggled to maintain that type of winning pace, which has led to some Lakers fans to express dissatisfaction with Walton.
Much to the dismay of many, his job doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to in jeopardy. Especially when Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka was moved to compare Walton to arguably the greatest coach of all time in Phil Jackson, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:
“I do think Luke has a similar personality to Phil in that he is a coach that stays in the moment, you don’t see him get too emotionally high or too emotionally low,” Pelinka said. “He has a presence. He has a lot of confidence, but yet he approaches things with calmness, which is an enduring quality.”
Walton’s calm demeanor is probably also an incredibly useful quality for the coach of such a young, rebuilding Lakers team that the first-time head coach is growing alongside.
The Lakers aren’t going to do everything right the first time, and even when they do, it’s not always going to result in wins. Walton’s ability to maintain an even keep in those situations and not lose sight of the process might be frustrating to some subsets of the fan base at times, but in the long run it will probably help the team.
Does that make Walton a perfect coach? No, he makes mistakes sometimes just like his young team. Still, Walton’s positive qualities still appear to outweigh the negative ones, and he seems to be the right coach for the Lakers right now.
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