While winning the team championship of course made the 2010 campaign an ultimate success for every Lakers player, Luke Walton’s season was a difficult one from a personal standpoint as he was limited to only 27 regular season games and limited action in 16 playoff games due to his back injury.
Walton managed only 9.4 minutes in the regular season games in which he did appear, averaging 2.4 points and 1.4 assists, and is primarily focused upon getting his back right for the 2010-2011 campaign.
Here are the highlights of his exit interview:
- (On his back): “Relatively speaking it feels pretty good right now. Obviously it was a very frustrating year (personally) in a championship year. Obviously surgery would be the last option. There are a couple trainers and work out guys I’m going to really work with hard and a lot this year. I hope so. There’s now way to really know right now until I work with specialists and focus right on the area that’s hurt. I’m optimistic about it that I’ll be able to get it where it needs to be … It’s hard. This year was probably the toughest. I was in a dark place, I was struggling, I wasn’t a happy man.”
- (On his exit interview): “It was mainly about what I’m going to do this summer. I’ve played for Phil for a long time and we talked about how frustrating it was not to be out there. Phil told me he loves having me out there and facilitating the offense.”
- (On support from his Dad and teammates): “It was huge. When I wasn’t playing especially after the pain all came back the second time (after taking time off) I was (struggling). Having his support and the support from my teammates and my coaches was huge for me. It kind of got me out of a funk and (enabled) me to get going again.”
- Walton said that he has a back condition that’s actually pretty common among people, it’s just that most people don’t happen to be professional athletes who are constantly pushing their bodies to the limits of physicality.
- (On getting Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher back): “Mitch is going to have a busy summer, because there are a lot of free agents. It speaks for itself how important it is to have (Fisher) and (Jackson) back.” Walton said that it would be more than worth it to have Fisher around even if he didn’t play, adding that he contributed considerably on the floor as well particularly in the playoffs.
- (On Phil Jackson): “I told him as I left that I hope he’s back next year. I love playing for Phil.”