On Monday, Luke Walton was ejected from a game for the first time since taking over as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Walton was furious at a non-call by the referees when Julius Randle got tangled up with DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings.
As a result of Walton’s outburst and ejection on Monday, the NBA fined the first-year head coach ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. Walton was fined $15,000 for his actions on the court and talked about the incident, via Mark Medina of the OC Register:
“If our guys aren’t getting the way I feel is treated right, then I’m going to stand up for them,” Walton said before Wednesday’s game against Brooklyn at Barclays Center. “That’s what we do as a team. I was always raised that team is a family. You stand up for your family. You stand up for your brothers. As a head coach, that’s what I’m going to do every time for my guys.”
Following the loss to the Kings, Julius Randle praised Walton for backing him up during the game. Randle and his teammates have spoken highly of Walton ever since he took the job, and that respect has only grown stronger over the course of the season. The mutual respect on both sides allows Walton to connect with his players and they, in turn, play hard for him.
Although the Lakers have struggled recently, the players are still on board with their head coach as they continue to go through growing pains. The recent struggles have shown that there’s still a lot of work to do with this young team as they try to right the ship after three straight years on the outside looking in on the playoffs.