LeBron James is still unsure of how to properly address Lakers head coach Luke Walton.
With the start of the 2018-19 NBA regular season less than 24 hours away, Lakers forward LeBron James is still uncertain of one thing. He does not know how to address head coach Luke Walton.
“I don’t know!” James explained and laughed after being asked what he calls Walton during an episode of HBO’s The Shop.
“[Walton] hasn’t said it yet. I’ve called him coach a couple times and I’ve called him Luke a couple times and he hasn’t said anything. And I’m like, ‘What should I—what do you want me to call you?’ Like, I need to know. I need to know this.”
Watch the clip from the show below:
Despite his illustrious career, James, 33, said he chooses to address his coaches as “coach” instead of by their first name, even as each of his last two coaches in Walton, 38, and Tyronn Lue, 41, were relatively close in age. James said Lue found it annoying, but the three-time NBA champion asserts that the relationship between a coach and player must be measured.
“For me, you’re my coach and I always feel like there’s a hierarchy to that,” James said. “Like, I’m the player and you’re the coach, so it’s like the respect factor. … That’s how it goes.”
The practice has remained the same since joining the Lakers. Walton and James were both a part of the 2003 draft class. James admitted that it was weird addressing Walton as “Luke.”
Regardless, it’s clear that even for arguably the greatest basketball player of his time, respect between a coach and player is imperative.
“Never in my career,” said James, “even when I was a kid, made myself feel like I was bigger than the head coach.”