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A Letter to a Son: Bill Walton remembers

By Bill Walton
Posted Jun 17 2009 8:08AM

Luke,

Words cannot describe the pride, joy, elation, exhilaration and happiness that I feel for you, your brothers, your teammates and your friends right now.

It is truly fantastic that you finally get to experience just how unique and special it is to be an NBA champion. Many great players, Luke, never get to feel the level of satisfaction, accomplishment and resolution that only a champion experiences. Not to say that that diminishes their careers in any way, but only a lucky few ever really get to the Promised Land.


Bill and Luke Walton spend some time on the water. Click here to see a photo gallery of Luke and Bill Walton through the years.
Courtesy of The Walton Family

Luke, you mentioned your California state championship from your senior year in high school but you forgot to mention your winning multiple NBA 3-on-3 Hoop It Up competitions, you also failed to bring up the Summer League championships, the South Mission Beach titles and you seemingly have forgotten your domination on the backyard court.

This first of hopefully many NBA titles will change your life forever. And as close as you are to your teammates today, as the years go by, those friendships will grow ever stronger.

I cannot begin to tell you, Luke, the outpouring of congratulations, support and love that I've received on your behalf from all of my friends around the globe because of this incredible Laker accomplishment. My cell phone and e-mail have just lit up since the final buzzer sounded and your celebration began. Don't ever let that celebration end. That's what you live for. Build on it, use it to drive you to greater levels of achievement for the rest of your life.

What you have accomplished is the sport's ultimate goal. You are on a truly special team with a brilliant and historical-level coach, for a remarkable organization, playing in your home region, for easily-argued the greatest owner in the history of professional sports. And now you've won the NBA title. What could be better?

Sorry I could not be there for you in Orlando for the championship closer. But believe me, I never missed a second all season long. From the opening tap on October 28 vs. the Trail Blazers to the celebration in the visiting locker room at Amway Arena, this magical mystery tour resonates like none other and rest assured we have everything on the DVR.

I'm thrilled for you that so many of your brothers and family members got to be there in Orlando to witness your historic achievement. And how gracious and classy of the Lakers to fly the family members out on a chartered plane for the championship celebration on the road. I'm sure that that was added inspiration for your great team to take care of business at the first opportunity.

Thanks so much for all of the returned phone calls. Sorry for pestering you with my endless voice mails, but as a dad, I just want what's best for you, Luke. I want you to know how much I love you and how proud of and happy for you that I am.

One of the things that makes me extremely happy and proud is the relationship you have with your brothers and how supportive you all are of each other and the joy and genuine happiness you exhibit for each other's successes.

I know it seems like forever since your last championship -- 1998 . You came close at Arizona with Lute Olson and you had two earlier futile tries in the NBA Finals but now in your sixth year, it's all come full circle.

I can remember so vividly your first night in the NBA, when you were drafted by the Lakers with the 32nd pick and to become a member of that truly special Laker franchise. The glorious celebration that night at our family home -- with Richard Jefferson, David Abramowitz and John Roberts plus all of your other brothers -- remains one of the most special, inspirational and proudest nights of my life.

Luke, you've been privileged in so many ways over the years. None more so than by the opportunity to play for coach Phil Jackson who is phenomenal in countless ways. Similar in style, touch and approach to the John Woodens, Jack Ramsays, K.C. Jones, Lenny Wilkens and Red Auerbachs of my life.

I really look forward to seeing you, Luke, it's been far too long. I know you are vividly aware of the impact that the Lakers have here on the Southern California community, including your grandmother (my mom), Gloria -- who still lives in the same house we all grew up in for the last 56 years. And for every Laker game, she puts on her Laker and Luke NBA garb and cheers ever so loudly, always answering the phone, "Go Lakers, Go Luke!"

I can remember, Luke, in the mid-1980s when you were just the youngest of boys. In those days, the Lakers and the Celtics had the NBA's fiercest rivalry and Chick Hearn, the Lakers' broadcaster, made a promotional audio tape of a Laker championship series. Chick spliced your name Luke Walton in as part of the promotion.

I played that tape one more time at the conclusion of Game 5 in Orlando. And Luke, yes indeed, Chick Hearn, prophetic as can be, had it all, probably 24 or 25 years ago, announcing to the world that Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers teaming then with Kareem and Magic was now and forever the champion of the NBA.

Luke, I'm the luckiest and proudest dad in the world. My love for you is endless and unconditional. Thanks for being the most wonderful of sons but remember this championship as Phil Jackson said. This about you players and what a special team it truly is. The Lakers are dazzling to watch, so interesting and intriguing to follow, such classy guys, such an intellectual style. It all seems so perfect and we're just the fans. I can only imagine what it's like to be one of the guys in the locker room.

You're so lucky, Luke. You are the fortunate one. You now know how hard it is to reach this unparalleled milestone. Life will never be the same again.

The smile on your face at the conclusion of the game and throughout the locker room celebration is an image that is forever emblazoned on my spirit and soul. Thanks for making us all so happy and allowing us to share in your joy.

As a young boy growing up, Luke, you were always so embarrassed when I would write John Wooden's maxims and Pyramid lessons on your lunch bags. From now on, I will proudly inscribe them all, "Luke Walton, NBA Champion."

Luke, you mentioned the historical reference to your team's abilities. When you get to be my age, trash talking is about all that's left. I fully admit, Luke, that your team is really, really good. Kobe is supreme. Pau, Lamar and Andrew are all top of the line. And Phil Jackson is brilliant.

Right next to your smile on my spirit and soul are the immortal words of Jack Ramsay, who recently said on the 30th anniversary of the 1977 World Champion Blazers in putting that team's abilities in historical context:

"I like our team. We'll take our chances. Anywhere. Anytime. Against anybody."

Blazers in four, Luke. Never forget why you are named after Maurice Lucas.

Love, Dad

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