Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma defends coach Luke Walton

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Tuesday, January 9, 2018

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Rookie forward Kyle Kuzma came to Luke Walton's defense on Monday, saying that the Los Angeles Lakers stand by their head coach.

Kuzma said the narrative out there that the team had quit on Walton was "upsetting." LaVar Ball told ESPN's Jeff Goodman that Walton had lost control of the team and "they don't want to play for him."

"I don't think that's the case," Kuzma said Monday. "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. Can't blame the coaching staff for everything. It's mutual, of course. Players mess up, coaches mess up. We as a team have to be more accountable."

"It's just a lot of white noise, in a sense," added Kuzma, who scored 14 points in a 132-113 home win over theAtlanta Hawkson Sunday to snap a nine-game losing slide. "Luke is my guy. I love playing for him. I'm sure most of us love playing for him too. ... We stand by Luke. I know the front office does."

Kuzma, who is close with Lonzo Ball, said it is increasingly difficult for today's generation of NBA players to avoid all the chatter on social media.

"In our society, social media's so big in our lives," Kuzma explained. "It's all over the place. ESPN puts out anything for clicks now, it kind of seems like. You can't really hide from it; it's just a thing that you have to deal with and just move past it. No other generation of NBA players has to deal with what we have to deal with in our era."

"We just gotta stay locked in as a family and listen to the people that really matter in our lives, basketball lives," Kuzma added. "That's everybody in this organization. A lot of times you have losing streaks, you can go home and listen to people and let them be in your ears, but the people that really matter are the people in the Lakers organization."

WhileDallas Maverickscoach Rick Carlisle, the president of the NBA Coaches Association, made his thoughts on the matter known on Sunday, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr shared his take on the situation on Monday.

"People are eating out of [LaVar Ball's] hands for no apparent reason, other than he's become like the Kardashian of the NBA or something, and that sells, and that's what's true in politics and entertainment and now in sports," Kerr said prior to Golden State's home game against theDenver Nuggets. "It doesn't matter if there's any substance involved with an issue, it's just, 'Can we make it really interesting for no apparent reason.'"

Kerr added that the sports media world's handling of LaVar Ball is part of what he sees as a greater trend.

"Where we're going is we're going way from covering the game, and we're going toward just sensationalized news," Kerr said. "It's not even news, really. It's just complete nonsense. But if you package that irrational nonsense with glitter and some ribbon, people are going to watch."

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