Remember all the good-natured ribbing Luke Walton took from his former Arizona Wildcats teammates because he was a favorite of Lute Olson, mostly because of his pristine image?
Nobody, including Olson — who prided himself for not using obscenities during his 34 years as a college head coach — can fault Walton for becoming the first rookie NBA coach to be ejected from a game, in the first quarter, of the Lakers’ 116-92 loss at Sacramento Monday night.
Walton was ejected with 4:14 left in the first quarter Monday night after he shouted at the officials following a non-call of an obvious foul committed by Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins on Lakers forward Julius Randle. Walton was livid and was restrained by Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson after Cousins forced Randle to the ground after they became tangled.
Walton stepped well on to the court and yelled at the officials for the no-call before being ejected with two technical fouls by Monty McCutcheon. What Walton said at the refs (any lip-reader could see) is not something Olson would condone. But he could certainly emphasize with Walton.
Walton, 36, is the NBA’s youngest head coach and is in his first year leading the Lakers after spending two seasons as an assistant coach for Steve Kerr with the Golden State Warriors.
He had only one technical foul during his career at Arizona, at Washington on Jan 15, 2002. It came with 17:55 left in Arizona’s 74-69 win when he fought for a loose ball with Errol Knight of Washington and was called for his fourth foul.
“What you can’t do is pick up a foul in frustration,” Olson said after that game. “With Luke, generally you don’t have that problem because he stays focused enough to not have moments like he had. That really hurt him.”
Walton also was assessed a technical before halftime of Golden State’s win over Cleveland in Game 4 of the NBA Finals last year. He complained a foul should have been called on Andre Iguodala’s shot to finish the first half.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.