Overall, the Los Angeles Lakers abysmal 2016-17 campaign can be summed up as a major disappointment. Though they weren’t really expected to make the postseason though it would’ve been a nice surprise, the Lakers have stumbled their way to a 20-49 record, last in the Western Conference. A lot of their pedestrian play this season can be attributed to the lack of true veteran leadership, but the development of young franchise centerpieces D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram has moved along slower than anticipated.
While the talent on the court hasn’t meshed as well as many hoped, one positive thing that can be extracted from this season are the strides Luke Walton has taken as head coach. The Lakers have had to overcome their share of adversity and through it all Walton has remained even keel and handled the Los Angeles spotlight in a mature way thus far this season. Walton has always had his players backs and the leadership he has displayed has provided a good example for these younger Lakers to follow.
Last night in a matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Lakers were involved in a skirmish regarding guard Nick Young being fouled hard by Malcolm Brogdon of Milwaukee while going up for a layup. When asked about the altercation last night, Walton was upset with how the refs handled and called out one of the Bucks staffers who grabbed forward Brandon Ingram. Following from Baxter Holmes and Jovan Buha of ESPN:
After two of his players were ejected in a third-quarter skirmish with Milwaukee Bucks players in Friday’s 107-103 loss at Staples Center, Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton harshly criticized the officials and alleged that a Bucks employee involved in the on-court scuffle “put his hands” on one of the Lakers players.
“Don’t touch my damn players,” Walton said, in part, “because if that’s OK, I’m sure we can find a couple people here in L.A. that want that job working for the Lakers, too. That’s not right…”
“And then watching the tape, one of their employees is on the floor, and he grabs Brandon by the jersey and shoves him — not holding him back, shoves him — and that doesn’t get addressed either?” Walton asked. “If there’s nothing wrong with that, then I have no problem finding some people to hire on our staff.
“The next time we get in a skirmish, I’ll keep all my players back because the fact that they don’t get in trouble for that, the refs don’t say anything about that, and he puts his hands on one of our players? He works for them. He can touch their players all he wants.”
Young and guard D’Angelo Russell were ejected for the Lakers as was Greg Monroe for Milwaukee as a result of the altercation. Luke Walton has every reason to be fired up about an employee laying his hands on one of his players and him backing up his guys says a lot about his relationship with his team. While the Lakers may not come out of this season with a postseason berth or a record near anything what they wanted it to look like, Walton has and continues to serve as a lone bright spot for a Lakers team preparing for a busy offseason.