The Los Angeles Lakers had their best season in a long time this year, but that wasn’t without some hiccups along the way. Chief among them was a stretch in December and January when the team lost 12 out of 13 games, including nine straight.
Following the last of those losses, to the Charlotte Hornets, LaVar Ball made a claim that the team had quit on head coach Luke Walton. It was Ball’s most pointed criticism of Walton to date.
It sparked a fever pitch over whether Lonzo Ball had discussed locker room matters with his father. To a man, several Lakers denied that Walton had lost the team.
During an appearance on “Undisputed with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe,” rookie forward Kyle Kuzma reiterated that stance and explained the young core was still enduring growing pains:
“During that time, we were on a losing streak. It wasn’t so much that we were quitting, it’s just we didn’t know how to win. All of us are young. We had [three] people that were drafted this year who played a lot. B.I., he was a second-year player, and Julius is still on a rookie contract. The main people in our core, didn’t necessarily know how to win. So that was the biggest reason.”
The Lakers certainly figured out how to win soon after as immediately following LaVar’s claims, the team won four straight games and eight out of their next 10.
As Kuzma pointed out, the core Lakers were all extremely young with himself, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Lonzo and Josh Hart all still being on rookie contracts. Teams in that situation tend to have major ups and downs during the season and struggle with being consistent every night.
It is clear that this team has not quit on Walton, who thus far has done an excellent job in helping re-build the franchise to the brink of playoff contention. Time will tell where the Lakers ultimately progress to in the years ahead, but LaVar’s words were proven wrong and Walton looks like the guy to lead the team moving forward.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERSNATION FORUM CLUB