Playing and coaching for the Los Angeles Lakers comes with a heightened level of media attention and scrutiny. This year, Lonzo Ball and Luke Walton have found themselves in the thick of the fire, and more times than not because LaVar Ball put them there.
Such was the case over the weekend when LaVar asserted Walton had lost control of the locker room and players no longer were motivated to play for him. Lonzo didn’t back his father’s claim, but he also didn’t voice his support of Walton.
That, however, firmly came from Kyle Kuzma. “It’s just a lot of white noise in a sense,” he said of outside distractions. “Luke is my guy, I love playing for him. I’m sure most of us love playing for him too.”
What Walton undeniably has succeeded at is getting the team to buy into a philosophy of focusing on those within the organization. “It’s the way that it works in the sports world,” Walton began to explain.
“The best teams are always the ones that understand and believe it’s our group, it’s our team, it’s our people within these walls that are going to make us win and lose. I would like to continue to develop that mindset.”
Kuzma refuted the notion that Walton had lost the locker room, which Brandon Ingram also denied as carrying any truth. “We’ve just got to stay locked in as a family and listen to the people that really matter in our basketball lives, and that’s everybody in this organization,” Kuzma said.
Said Ingram: “It’s our job to come in here and listen to our head coach every single day, listen to the assistants. We can’t control what’s on the outside or who’s talking on the outside. We just try to stay within this team and see how we can make each other better. I think it’s important for us to let that stay out of the locker room.”
And though Ball didn’t publicly pick a side between his head coach and father, he too is on board with the message being delivered. “We always say it’s us against everybody,” Ball said after the Lakers snapped a season-worst nine-game losing streak.
“At the end of the day, whoever is in this locker room, that’s all we have. We’ve just got to come together.”
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