Luke Walton (born March 28, 1980 in San Diego, California) is a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. His position is small forward.
Growing up as the son of former NBA great Bill Walton, Luke was certainly no stranger to the sport of basketball. His three brothers: Adam, Nathan (who also unsuccessfully ran for governor during the 2003 California recall), and Chris also play or have played basketball for their schools. He has a tattoo on his arm representing himself and his brothers playing ball.
After graduating from University of San Diego High School in 1998, he enrolled at the University of Arizona and majored in Family Studies. There, he played for the Wildcats under coach Lute Olson. He was selected in the 2003 NBA Draft with the third pick of the second round (32nd overall) by the Lakers. Standing at 6 ft 8 in tall and 235 lb, Walton has been with the Lakers his entire NBA career.
Walton's game is not flashy, and he does not make the highlight reel often, but he has been praised for being skilled in the fundamentals of basketball: positioning, timing, and teamwork. His passing skills brought him great success in the triangle offense under Phil Jackson. To some critics, however, his tendency to pass rather than shoot causes him to hamper his team's offense occasionally. This habit was exemplified in one game at the end of the 2004-05 season, where the Lakers were down by a point with time running out and he was in position to score. Instead, he passed the ball to Kobe Bryant, who was unable to get a shot off. As the buzzer sounded, Kobe slammed the ball on the floor in frustration (he later said he didn't blame Walton for the pass). Walton suffered an injury in the 2004 preseason and was unable to find a place in coach Rudy Tomjanovich's rotation, but returned to a regular spot in the lineup after the coach's resignation midway through the season.
Walton enjoys great popularity among the Staples Center crowd. Fans are known to chant "Luuuuuuuke" whenever he has the ball (Lakers fans have had similar chants for Michael Cooper and Smush Parker). As he shares a name with the Luke Skywalker character from Star Wars, whenever he scores the beginning of the "Throne Room/End Credit" music from the Star Wars original soundtrack plays over the public address system. Walton, however, is not named after the Star Wars character; instead, he is named after his father Bill's friend Maurice Lucas.