Luke Walton recalls time Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal destroyed him when he smelled like alcohol at Lakers practice

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Luke Walton revealed that he went to practice hungover once and ended up getting destroyed by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

Walton explained the full story on Bleacher Report’s “Open Run” podcast.

“I remember one time my rookie year, I came in a little, uh…(Kobe) and Shaq like to do this as, I think it was just rookies, but any young guy — I probably had too much to drink the night before, so I came in, I was a rookie, I felt good, and they could smell some alcohol on me,” Walton said. “And Kobe informed the rest of the team that no one was allowed to help me on defense, and that I had to guard him the entire practice.

“I was laughing at first like, ‘Oh, this is funny,’ but in Kobe’s mind, in his eyes, it was like, ‘No, I see and smell weakness. I’m going to destroy you today.’ He taught me that lesson. He probably scored 70-something in practice that day, and I was begging for help, none of the teammates would help. But, yeah, his killer instinct and his work ethic, they’ll stick with me forever.”

There’s no question that Bryant is one of the hardest workers in NBA history, and he certainly made Walton pay in that practice for his transgressions from the night before.

During his playing career, Bryant averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Essentially, Walton stood no chance with Bryant singling him out all practice.

Walton won two NBA titles during his time with the Lakers, and he eventually went on to become the team’s head coach. Walton spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors before he was hired to be the head coach of the Lakers in 2016.

Walton has also spent time as the head coach of the Sacramento Kings.

Bryant and O’Neal certainly gave Walton an interesting welcome to the NBA, but it probably made Walton a better player, as he learned the consequences of showing up to practice hungover.

Bryant’s insane competitive spirit is a major reason why the Lakers won five NBA titles with him on the team. It’s cool to see his former teammates share legendary stories about him as a way to keep his memory alive.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.