Kyle Kuzma defends Luke Walton, says most Lakers ‘love playing for him’
By Bill Oram
EL SEGUNDO — LaVar Ball’s claim that Lakers coach Luke Walton has lost the support of Lakers players was not received well in the very locker room that Ball claimed Walton had lost.
“It was upsetting,” rookie Kyle Kuzma said. “I don’t think that’s the case. When you lose games, at the end of the day Luke isn’t the one going out and shooting 2 for 15, turning the ball over, having turnovers or missing free throws. That’s us.”
Those team-wide issues took a rest on Sunday, allowing the Lakers (12-27) to earn their first win in 10 tries with a 132-113 thrashing of the Atlanta Hawks. The victory alone, their first at Staples Center since before Thanksgiving, might have temporarily strained the tension around Walton brought on by LaVar Ball, but Kuzma nonetheless came to his coach’s defense.
A day earlier LaVar’s comments made for viral fodder and Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball’s most rousing response was only that he would “play for anybody.”
Leave it to a 22-year-old rookie to make the kind of strong statement in Walton’s defense that Lakers officials otherwise have not.
“Luke is my guy,” said Kuzma, the team’s leading scorer at 17.1 points per game. “I love playing for him. I’m sure most of us love playing for him, too.”
Magic Johnson watched Lakers practice from the landing outside of his office, but was not made available to reporters. It is now clear that the Lakers severely underestimated LaVar Ball when they drafted his son and that their efforts to muzzle him following a November détente were unsuccessful.
“We’ve just got to stay locked in as a family and listen to the people that really matter in our lives – basketball lives,” Kuzma said
That might be interpreted as a shot at LaVar Ball, the father of Kuzma’s […]