Thursday October 20th, 2016

It’s a shame Tinder wasn’t popping in 2006, because Luke Walton would have had one of the highest swipe rates in history with this photo.

Walton, then 26, was a young king in Los Angeles when Sports Illustrated photographed him leaning out of a hot tub. When he wasn’t tilting down his sunglasses to see the world like us common folk, he was starting at small forward for the Lakers. He was such a hot commodity that when he went down with ankle injury in January, they lost 16 of their next 22. But he wasn’t about to let the big city eat him up.

“I'm a low-key guy,” Walton, staying true to himself, told SI’s Ben Reiter during a Q&A.

In this photo shoot during the 2006 season, Walton showcased not one, but two brilliant tattoos, including one of the Grateful Dead dancing skeletons, with basketballs, which represent him and his four brothers.

Peter Read Miller/SI

Then there are the pair of Ray Bans, which make Walton look like the head of a talent agency. And, to be honest, that’s essentially what his new job as head coach of the Lakers is. He probably walked into practice the first day with aviators on, telling a bunch of 20-somethings that they’re all uniquely talented, and they’re all going to be stars. That’s who the Lakers need right now to grow their young talent. And, If there’s anyone who can coach Nick Young, it’s surely the man in this photo. 

I suggest Luke have weekly pool parties in L.A. to build some team chemistry.

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