Luke Walton, a 10-year NBA veteran (most of that with the Lakers, where he won a couple of rings), was known to enjoy a night out in the bars and clubs of L.A.’s South Bay. Not necessarily more than other players of his era — Walton was not a partier in the extreme — but he enjoyed the NBA lifestyle.
Kobe Bryant taught him a harsh lesson about not letting that impact his work.
Walton went on Bleacher Report’s “Open Run” podcast this week and told his Kobe story.
“I remember one time my rookie year, I came in a little, uh… (Kobe) and Shaq like to do this as, I think it was just rookies, but any young guy — I probably had too much to drink the night before, so I came in, I was a rookie, I felt good, and they could smell some alcohol on me. And Kobe informed the rest of the team that no one was allowed to help me on defense, and that I had to guard him the entire practice.
“I was laughing at first like, ‘Oh, this is funny,’ but in Kobe’s mind, in his eyes, it was like, ‘No, I see and smell weakness. I’m going to destroy you today.’ He taught me that lesson. He probably scored 70-something in practice that day, and I was begging for help, none of the teammates would help. But, yeah, his killer instinct and his work ethic, they’ll stick with me forever.”
The other lesson: don’t show up to practice hungover. Walton said Shaq did pretty much the same thing, and Walton couldn’t foul him (at 6’8″ and 235, Walton was a little undersized to guard Shaq).
There are so many great Kobe stories out there.