Former NBA player turned coach Luke Walton narrates an incident involving Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal berating him for smelling of alcohol during a practice session.
As a player, Luke Walton made his debut for the LA Lakers, drafted at the 32nd pick in the 2003 draft. The 6″8′ forward played his rookie season alongside the iconic duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. During his 9-year stint with the purple and gold, Walton found success as a role player.
The San Diego native won back-to-back championships in 2009-10, with the Black Mamba leading the team. Nonetheless, Walton found more success in the coaching department as he switched careers. The former Lakers player began assisting Steve Kerr on the Warriors in the 2014-15 season.
Walton excelled with his role on GSW, leading to him getting the head coaching jobs on the Lakers and Kings. The two-time champion is currently assisting J.B. Bickerstaff on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Transitioning into the role of coach, Walton must owe some credit to Shaq and Kobe.
Walton once narrated an incident at a Lakers practice session that had him showing up smelling of alcohol. What followed was a nightmare with the Diesel and Mamba giving the rookie Walton a beating.
Luke Walton showed up at a Lakers practice smelling of alcohol.
At the time, the Lakers were on top of the heap, with the iconic duo of Shaq-Kobe ruling the roost. The two superstars were at the peak of their prime, coming off a 3-peat and hungry to achieve more, which was evident from their grueling practice sessions.
Both Shaq and Kobe spent hours at the gym, improving their craft. Now imagine in the midst of this a young Walton showing up smelling of alcohol. The Lakers rookie didn’t know what lay ahead of him, narrating the following incident.
“I remember one time my rookie year, I came in a little, uh him (Kobe Bryant) 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.”
While Walton expected the seven-foot Shaq to have mercy, the Lakers center followed from where Kobe left.
“Shaq did it to me too one day. Yeah, Shaq made me guard him, and then I just started trying to foul him, and he told me that if I kept fouling him, he was gonna punch me, so then I stopped fouling him. It wasn’t fair. I felt like I was a child trying to play a grown man’s game.”
Walton’s incident is every NBA rookie’s worst nightmare. Nevertheless, the former Lakers forward did imply the lessons he learned from Mamba Mentality, finding success in the role of coach.