Luke Walton arrived in Cleveland as an anchor. The cost of getting a first round pick for Ramon Sessions. He was not ancient, even by NBA standards, but his back had betrayed him. Walton was an old soul, with an old game, coming to a young team. The odds of Walton being a fan favorite a year and a half later were incredibly slim.
"People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can't do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I'm flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol... as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting." -Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins
Walton was not a leaper. He was not a shooter. He was not a defender. He didn't drive. WhatWalton was, what he is, is a symbol. Every single rec league hero who spent countless nights wondering "what if" suddenly had a hero. A silent guardian with a bad back and a Grateful Dead themed basketball tattoo and the uncanny ability to see everything on the court. Watching Walton, especially once the Cavaliers formed an insanely fun bench crew with him, Shaun Livingston, and Wayne Ellington was like watching a high level rec league game. Every person who had ever been dominated by a grown man in small shorts and rec specs instantly recognized what what happening out there. The fluky J, the on target dimes from anywhere on the court, the ice wrap the size of a small child on his back.
Luke Walton was not the player the Cavaliers deserved, but the one they needed at the time. Well, maybe he wasn't, but he was a ton of fun.
For what ended up being the last few months of basketball of his career, Walton averaged 3.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal over the final 22 games after the All - Star break. The real impact wasn't on the Cavs, however. It was on children all over northeast Ohio. Inspiring them to achieve their dreams, even if they couldn't really jump, shoot, run, or maintain good health.
Today, Walton works for..... the Warriors, of course. As if they had not taken enough from me in recent months, Walton is now the lead assistant in Oakland, taking over for the departed Alvin Gentry. This shouldn't last for more than a season, maybe two. Even in his youth, Walton was always tabbed as a surefire head coaching candidate, and rising through the ranks of a winning team in the NBA always leads to a gig somewhere.
In closing, the next time you're at the rec hooping with your friends, and you're about to yell "KOBE!" whilst taking some silly shot as the youth today are prone to: Take a second and think about Luke Walton. Then get real, recognize your limits, and yell his name instead.
Love you Luke.