Luke Walton sat down with Bill Simmons and explained how Richard Jefferson is still making a difference on a championship team.
On Friday, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton got interviewed by Bill Simmons on The Bill Simmons Podcast. The two had a great conversation, but Simmons’ final question was one that had him dying for an answer — “explain how Richard Jefferson is still a rotation guy on a really good team to me.”
The grandest question in the history of the NBA finally got its explanation. Over the last two seasons, Jefferson had paid dividends for the Cavaliers in the regular season and the playoffs, specifically against the Golden State Warriors in 2016 when Walton was an assistant.
Jefferson doesn’t let him live that down, by the way. Anytime Walton is beating his buddy in anything, RJ doesn’t think it’s over, and Walton wholly believes Jefferson is a sore winner.
Despite not putting up a ton of points in the series, Jefferson came up huge on the glass and filled a defensive void that was necessary to Cleveland’s success, and Walton thinks he knows why.
“You wanna know the truth? He moved to the South Bay here in Hermosa Beach, so he was on his way out. His lifestyle changed when he moved to Hermosa Beach, and this is how. His body was breaking down a little bit and he moved here and bought a house; started playing beach volleyball with us every day in the summertime.
So he’s in the sand, he’s jumping 1,000 times a day just hitting balls. So then, without even knowing it, everything’s getting stronger again. And we play — in the summertime — we play every day. So he’s getting that workout in. In the South Bay, everyone does yoga, too. These are all the California things that we get a bad rep for, but they’re actually good for you. So he starts doing yoga so much, and he falls in love with yoga — he opens his own yoga studio.
So now, for the past four years, every offseason he plays beach volleyball and does yoga five days a week. He doesn’t say this, but, to me, it’s the only explanation. Because now, all of a sudden, yes, he’s dunking on people again at the age of 36 right now, and he’s playing great.
He makes winning plays; he’s a huge part of why they beat us in the Finals last year. When Kevin Love got hurt, they put him in and his defensive intensity and switching on to our guards was a pretty big factor in the way that series played out.”
Simmons was flabbergasted, to say the least.
Here’s a PSA to all aging NBA players who want to be instrumental to the success of a championship team: beach volleyball, yoga and the absolutely divine weather in sunny Southern California.
Many props to RJ for being able to ditch SoCal for eights months out of the year to spend time in the frozen tundra that’s Cleveland, Ohio. I’m sure playing with LeBron James makes the trip a little easier, though.
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