The 35-year-old former NBA forward and current Warriors interim head coach has Golden State off to its best start in franchise history (15--0). Unfortunately for him, the numbers don't count.
DAN PATRICK:Did you know that Steve Kerr [the Warriors' official head coach] gets credit [in the record books] for all of the team's wins this season?
LUKE WALTON: I am aware of that. The media keeps bringing it up. It's really not that big a deal in our camp.
DP:How much communication do you have with Kerr?
LW: A lot. Steve and I talk every day now. When he first left [in October, because of a back injury], we didn't talk very much. His main focus was on trying to get healthy. It was better not to ask him 20 questions a day.
DP:When did you start thinking about being a head coach?
LW: It first happened [during the 2009--10 season] in L.A., when I had a bad back injury and pretty much missed an entire season. Some of the doctors told me they didn't think I'd be able to play again at an NBA level. I was kind of depressed. [Former Lakers coach] Phil Jackson noticed and invited me into his coaching circle as a way to lift my spirits. He had me tracking stuff on the bench.
DP:What was that first night like as a head coach?
LW: It was awesome. Obviously, everything getting sprung on me the way it did, there were a lot of nerves and pressure and me just not wanting to mess up. You try to prepare yourself to do everything right. It's getting more comfortable and more fun.
DP:Are you more amazed on a nightly basis by Steph Curry or by Kobe in his prime?
LW: It's different. When you're talking about players that good, it's different. I was part of the game [in '06, against the Raptors] in which Kobe scored 81 points. That was one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen. Then you see Steph doing it. He's 6'3", 190 pounds. He's the best player in the NBA right now. It's incredible, in a league full of these huge, athletic, strong people, that this guy is the best.
DP:Have you ever yelled at Steph?
LW: No. You don't need to yell at him. He's one of the best people I've ever been around. He's always trying to do the right thing. There are times you have to talk to him because things aren't going right. But you don't have to get upset with him.
DP:Not to diminish what you've done, but could I coach this group of players to a win?
LW: I'm sure you could, but you're not just anybody. You're a sports genius.
DP:What if I asked to be a player-coach?
LW: If you're planning on playing yourself, the team is not going to win that game.
I asked Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long who people often say he looks like. "Bull from [the '80s TV show] Night Court," Long said. "[Bears running back] Matt Forte calls me that. I also get [professional wrestler] Goldberg. The lack of creativity in the doppelgänger department drives me crazy." ... Hornets center Frank Kaminsky is not having much success with fantasy football this season. "I have the worst team in the league," Kaminsky told me. "The only game I won this year was because the other team forgot to put in their quarterback." ... Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill isn't exactly taking advantage of the Miami nightlife. "I go to bed early," said the 27-year-old Tannehill. "I'm an old man. I try to be asleep by 9:30. My wife [Lauren] is just as bad as me. We live like we're 95 years old."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (WALTON)
JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES (LONG)
KENT SMITH/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (KAMINSKY)
ROBIN MARCHANT/GETTY IMAGES FOR ESPN (TANNEHILL)