Luke Walton's Player Mailbox
Cavs forward Luke Walton has been one of the squad’s most vital veteran influences since he arrived in a mid-season trade last February. On a team that’s average age is just over 24 years of age, the two-time NBA Champion has provided the on-court and off-court leadership that’s invaluable to a young squad.
The son of one of the game’s greatest big men and with 10 seasons under his belt, Walton has seen it all throughout his hoops life.
Last week, you sent your questions to Luke and this week – as the Cavaliers round out their five-game roadie – he took a moment to answer some of them in his Player Mailbox.
Comments: Hey Luke … (Bear Down)! Being a fellow Wildcat/Arizonian myself, how have you adapted to winter in Cleveland?
Name: Dave Ross
Luke Walton: It’s definitely a shock to the system. But going from San Diego to Tucson to L.A., it was nice to have a snowy Christmas. Take the dog out when it’s 18 degrees outside. It’s something new in life. It’s been a fun adventure.
Comments: Which young player on the team has helped you to become a better basketball player ?
Name: Jose Suarez
Walton: I think it’s more like this is the first time in my career in the NBA that I’ve been with a team full of young guys as opposed to a team full of vets. And just seeing the game from that perspective has kind of been a great learning experience for me.
It’s kind of taken me back to my younger days – seeing these guys and being able to help them out as a different way of viewing the game than I’ve experienced since being in the league.
It’s fun to see them getting better and it’s fun for us to come together and take these steps to win in this league – which is tough to do. As opposed to the rest of my career, where I’ve been on a team where we’ve had all the vets and we’ve known how to win.
But this has definitely been a fun learning experience.
Comments:What is the major difference between playing with Kobe, and now Kyrie? Any similarities with the way the play on the court?
Name: Joe Gessner
Walton: The similarities are more surprising to me, being that it’s Kobe’s 17th year and Kyrie’s second. Kyrie’s a point guard, Kobe’s a shooting guard. But there’s something about both of them that’s unique and rare as far as how easy they can make the game. And their ability to make big plays is really impressive.
Obviously, Kobe is one of the best ever. And to see a 20-year-old kid have those same types of tendencies is pretty surprising and impressive.
Comments: Luke! What's your favorite movie of all time? Top three if that's too difficult to choose? Thank you!
Name: Mike Brenkus
Walton: Let’s see …favorite movies. I’ll go with Shawshank Redemption, Caddyshack and let’s go with Braveheart. We’ll hit all the genres.
Comments: Do you have any pre game rituals?
Name: Adam Avivi
City: South Euclid
Walton: I don’t have any rituals. I have my routines. But I’m not superstitious. If something gets messed up in the routine, it’s not like I start the whole thing over or anything like that.
I have my routine from shootaround to game time. I’ll eat at the same time. Do the pregame workout at the same time. But nothing crazy.
Comments: I know both you and your dad are Deadheads. What's your favorite Grateful Dead show to listen to?
Name: James Schmidt
City: Cleveland Hts
Walton: I don’t have one favorite show. My dad had thousands of cassette tapes filled with different Grateful Dead shows, and they would just play all the time. But in today’s iPod and iTunes world, I just hit ‘shuffle’ on all the different songs I have, so there’s not one show that I listen to.
I like everything. I’ll just hit shuffle and my teammates will hear it – and it’ll go from Tim McGraw to Jay-Z to who-knows-what. But it’s every type of music that you can think of on there.
And on my laptop, when my mom comes to town to visit, she finds a song that she likes and she downloads it. So every once in a while, I’ll get something from the “Mama Mia” soundtrack on there. I skip through those, but they’re on there.
Comments: What are some of your recommendations for the younger players to keep them grounded on road trips?
Name: Earl Bell
Walton: Well, I think as a player in this league, you’re going to learn best from experiencing things yourself. But I try to verbalize that we’re on the road for business. We’re here to win games. Go do what you’re going to do – meet up with friends, have dinner, whatever it is. But make sure you prioritize that we’re here to win games.
If your family is bothering you or you have to deal with all this extra stuff, that has to be second fiddle to us playing ball. And I just try to put that out there. If they take it, they take it.
When I was younger, Kobe and Shaq, if they saw you had a late night the night before, the next day in practice they made sure they went at you all practice long so that you wouldn’t want to do that again.
So it’s definitely something you’ll learn for yourself throughout the years, but I figured I’d put that out there and some people can get it earlier rather than later.
Comments: Hey Luke, being a veteran on a very young team, do the younger guys ever collaborate and play tricks on the older guys to get payback for their rookie duties?
Name: Aaron Teesdale
State: Victoria, Australia
Walton: Nah – that’s not the way this league works.
I remember Andrew Bynum tried to say no once. And we had him hog-tied with six people, knees to the back of his neck, pouring Gatorade on him.
When you have a team full of older guys, you can do that stuff. But this is not a league where the rookies get back at the vets.