It has been a long, arduous process for Luke Walton as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. The team has gone through some rough stretches before their recent strong play, but luckily for Walton he has a group of mentors that he can turn to in times of need, including former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
It was Jackson who first got Walton to think about coaching, allowing him to sit in on meetings while Walton was injured during his playing days. Last season, during one of the Lakers many big losing streaks Walton leaned on Jackson for some help.
In an interview with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Walton revealed that an old, favorite drill of Jackson’s helped his young team during that rough patch:
“His suggestion was, ‘Do the fireman’s drill,'” Walton says of the full court, four-on-four-on-four drill. “Mix up your starters and your second unit so that starters are going against starters. And don’t call any fouls so they get really frustrated and angry with you, and it almost turns into a fight during practice. That type of energy will kind of bring out their competitive spirit.”
Walton gave it a shot.
“We did the whole practice like that,” he says. “The players were f—ing fuming. They were yelling at each other, at me. … But it sharpened us up.”
Eventually the Lakers would go on a five-game winning streak late in the season despite multiple huge losing streaks throughout the year.
The Lakers has essentially built on that this season, having already surpassed last year’s win total and looking like one of the NBA’s most promising young teams.
Walton still has his struggles as a young coach, but being able to reach out to the likes of Jackson or Steve Kerr in times of need is definitely a huge help and the Lakers are ultimately the beneficiary.
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