After being named the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton was all sunshine and smiles, calling the team his “family” in an interview with ESPN Radio. But reports say that in the ensuing weeks, Walton has been seen pacing around his house, occasionally muttering “my God, what have I done?”
Word is that Walton’s been seeking out the therapists to the stars in Hollywood. His normally easygoing demeanor, on constant display during the Warriors’ 24-0 winning streak to start the season, is about to give way to anguished cries of “Why, Doc? WHY?”
To which Clippers coach Doc Rivers is sure to say, “Luke, you know my team’s playing at Staples Center tonight, not yours, and aren’t you supposed to be in Brooklyn?” Luke’s reply?
“I know, Doc. I just wanted to watch an NBA-quality basketball game tonight, that’s all, and you guys are playing the Blazers.”
What sort of psychological damage could possibly have convinced Walton to step out of a situation where he has been widely lauded as a genius in the making, into a situation where he is sure to fail?
We may find out more than we ever wanted to know about Luke’s father Bill, the legend who won titles in Portland and Boston and has a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame. What could Bill Walton possibly have done to his son to leave him such a broken man that he would willingly coach the Lakers? Was there abuse? Did Luke just burn out on trying to follow a legend, and set himself up to fail so he’d have someone to blame when he couldn’t measure up? Did he just want to surf the waves and smoke some doobage in Malibu, figuring nobody would notice because the team was going to suck either way?
Does Luke have an ulterior motive? Sure, he won two titles alongside Kobe Bryant, but he was a firsthand witness to the breakup between Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal, he watched Kobe at Peak Selfishness in 2006, and when the Lakers imploded, they shipped Walton off to a moribund Cleveland team having its own issues with the departure of LeBron James. In his heart of hearts, does Luke just want to watch the world burn?
Word is Walton will seek counsel from Phil Jackson, his old coach, and may try to lure him back to LA as an assistant or a consultant or a figurehead or whatever the hell Phil’s actually doing in New York these days. But he will find no succor from a man who just had Kristaps Porzingis fall into his lap. Even if he did, what’s Walton going to do? Run the triangle offense? This isn’t 1997, and D’Angelo Russell isn’t Michael Jordan. It’s a pace-and-space league, and the only space the Lakers are going to have is a showing of Space Jam 2 in the team’s locker room. Man, that LeBron James, huh? He sure can act!
Luke does have Magic Johnson to lean on. Magic took to Twitter recently with his master plan to rescue the Lakers from obscurity: All they have to do is sign Kevin Durant and LeBron James! It’s a stroke of genius!
You ever watch one of your friends concoct some wacky scheme, like John Cusack in Better Off Dead, or Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim Sets Nerdy Guys Back Decades And Creeps Out Countless Geek Girls? I didn’t know the Lakers needed a Manic Pixie Dream Girl…or maybe that’s where Jeannie Buss comes in, to sweep the evil boyfriend Jimmy aside and bring herself in as the character-free fantasy object to save the day, while using her feminine wiles to charm Durant, LeBron, Steph Curry, Porzingis, and Jimmy Butler into the purple and gold?
If you’re going to crack into the DSM-V, you can find a smorgasbord of issues manifesting themselves in Luke’s twisted mind. For fans, it will be an entertaining view of a man’s descent into madness. Like a death maze from the Saw movies, around every corner lurks evils that will snap one’s mind and rearrange it as a twisted, feral copy of its former self. This little game of Five Nights At Jimmy’s stands to destroy the career of a man who once rode a wave of success to a Coach of the Month honor.
Yeah. Keep shopping for those therapists, Luke. Maybe Dr. Melfi from “The Sopranos” is available.
Fox Doucette is a freelance writer based in a different city every year. You should follow him on Twitter.