Luke Walton’s string of bad luck didn’t end with getting fired from the Lakers. The bad luck reportedly could impact his future
As Walton prepares for the biggest challenge of his coaching career with the Sacramento Kings, he does so amidst sexual assault allegations levied in a lawsuit against him by Kelli Tennant, a former college athlete, Southern California journalist, and current women’s self-help guru.
Luke Walton looks to be in some hot water.
According to TMZ, Tennant says Walton assaulted her in a Santa Monica hotel room sometime before he became coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016. The allegation against Walton is at least five years old when he was still an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors. Walton’s lawyer has refuted the suit as “baseless.”
The Kings franchise must now deal with these allegations by doing their own internal investigation and decide if Walton is truly the man for the job. Reaction to these accusations has been predictably harsh. Meanwhile, the accusations were never reported to the Lakers or the police.
A Lakers source says that the allegations against Luke Walton, which were said to have happened before the Lakers hired him, were never reported to the Lakers, and consequently had no bearing on Walton’s job status.
Predictably, the Lakers want to distance themselves as far as possible from the situation. Owner Jeanie Buss is undoubtedly counting her blessings that she decided to part ways with Walton before this latest negative news further rocked a Lakers organization already in disarray.
Lakers have released the following statement on Luke Walton
This bombshell hit the Kings — who say they are gathering information and have no comment at the moment — like a ton of bricks. They have invested a bag of money, energy and the hopes of their future in Walton.
The Kings have issued a statement regarding sexual assault allegations against their new coach, Luke Walton, as reported by TMZ. “We are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time.
Walton and his lawyer have vehemently denied the accuser’s claims. They’ve gone as far as to call Tennant an opportunist with no credibility. This has infuriated dedicated members of the #MeToo movement and puts the entire city of Sacramento under a negative microscope.
Luke Walton’s attorney Mark Baute’s statement regarding Kelli Tennant’s lawsuit: “Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations. The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom.
It looks like Sacramento is going to ride this situation out with Walton, rather than act hastily and relieve him of his duties. They are taking a huge PR risk.
Adama Iwu is a co-founder of “We Said Enough,” a non-profit “working to end harassment, bullying, discrimination, and abuse.” She told the Sacramento Bee that she believes the Kings must deal with the matter directly, and rapidly.
“The Kings have to do this quickly and they have to be very clear,” Iwu said. “People have to believe that their process is fair and equitable.”
Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the NBA has to get a neutral party to investigate the allegations.
“They need to find someone who is completely neutral, someone who doesn’t work for the NBA or any other sports organization…” she said. “It should be a truly independent organization that is not biased for passion or prejudice one way or the other.”