ESPN’s Luke Walton: I have no regrets about losing to Orlando State
Luke Walton is one of the most beloved men in the NBA and the head coach of the Orlando Magic, a franchise that went on to become one of college basketball’s most dominant teams in the late 1990s.
Walton was the coach at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 2003 to 2011, where he helped the Badgers to a Big Ten title and to the NCAA tournament twice.
But that wasn’t the end of his collegiate success.
The Milwaukee Bucks were in the midst of a franchise-record run in the mid-2000s that included a berth in the 2007 NBA championship.
During his time in Milwaukee, Walton helped the Bucks to the league’s second-best record and was the first coach to win two NBA championships in the same season since Larry Brown in 1996.
But he left Wisconsin early for Orlando, where the Bucks won just seven games in Walton’s first season.
His departure wasn’t just due to the financial ramifications of his departure, it was also a result of the direction he was taking the franchise.
The Magic were the only team to make the playoffs in the past 15 years.
That season, Walton hired Mike Dunleavy, a longtime college coach with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Dunleavys first season as an assistant was the worst in the franchise’s history, but Walton’s decision to fire Dunleaval left Orlando without a coach for the upcoming season.
That was the start of a four-year struggle for Walton, who was fired after just three seasons.
After a disastrous season in Orlando, Walton moved back to Milwaukee, where things went south for him and the Bucks.
The team finished the 2011-12 season 22-63, but that was the only season in which they finished above .500.
They finished in the cellar of the Western Conference.
Walson was fired on March 2, 2013, the same day the Bucks hired Larry Brown to coach the franchise and he was replaced by Jim Boeheim.
Walton had not been the head man at the Milwaukee Bucks since 2011 and Boeheim was the second coach to take the job.
But it wasn’t long before the Milwaukee franchise turned its fortunes around, winning the first of their three NBA championships.
It was the beginning of a turnaround that eventually turned the team into one of basketball’s premier organizations, winning a championship in 2016 and making a run to the Western Final the following season.
Walter left Orlando on the heels of a promising season, but he was not done.
He was hired by the Philadelphia Mavericks, who also finished in last place in the Western conference and went on a run that put them into the playoffs again in 2019.
Walts success in Dallas also had a ripple effect throughout the NBA.
With the Mavericks, Walton had a shot to be the next coach in the league.
He had been a part of the Warriors run to their first title in franchise history.
But he was fired just two months into his first season with the Mavericks.
Walston’s first head coaching job in Dallas was the most lucrative and sought-after job in the entire NBA.
In his first year, Walton made $1.6 million in base salary and received an additional $700,000 in performance-based bonuses.
In 2020, he earned $1 million in salary and bonuses, making him the highest paid coach in NBA history.
He earned $3 million in 2021, the last year of his contract.
In 2022, he signed a two-year deal with the Orlando Heat, earning $3.3 million and making $4.7 million.
In 2024, he was hired as a consultant to the Houston Rockets, earning him an additional three-year contract.
He received an even bigger payday in 2025, when he signed an eight-year, $50 million contract extension.
That deal paid him an average of $6.3.
In 2021, he returned to the Dallas Mavericks, where they were 11-22.
The following season, the Mavericks finished 30-48 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
They lost to the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs.
Walman led the Mavericks to another title in 2022, when they reached the conference finals for the second straight year.
But the franchise was swept by the Golden State Warriors in the second round.
Walons success in Miami also saw the team make a run for the NBA Finals.
In the final regular season of the decade, the team made the playoffs three times and reached the Finals six times.
They made the Finals in four consecutive seasons.
Walms first coaching job with the Heat was also one of his biggest paydays.
In 2021, Walton earned $2.2 million in total salary and $1,750,000 of performance-related bonuses, and he earned another $1-million bonus in 2022.
In 2023, he made $4 million in annual base salary.
In 2022, the next year, he received