SAN ANTONIO – Lonnie Walker IV had never been to San Antonio before he was drafted by the Spurs but he already compares the Alamo City and organization to the happiest place on earth.
“It’s surreal to me,” Walker said. “I still feel like I’m at Disneyland and I am going to keep saying that until it’s business time.”
The Spurs selected Walker, a shooting guard out of Miami (Florida), with the No. 18 pick in last week’s NBA Draft.
Walker spoke to the local media Friday for the first time since he heard his name called by the Spurs and said the experience has already been above his expectations.
“Honestly, my arms kind of got chills seeing the names,” Walker said. “I came here late at night, seeing my locker room, seeing ‘Walker IV’ on the locker, seeing Manu and Tony and I’m like ‘wow.’ These guys are amazing.”
Walker believes he will have no problem getting accustomed to the Spurs way and culture.
He said his parents instilled a “work hard, day-in, day-out” mentality early in his life. Walker is ready for the challenge that comes with representing the Spurs.
“Not everyone is built to be a Spur and that’s something you have to take and be special with,” Walker said.
Being accustomed to the Spurs way naturally means getting to know head coach Gregg Popovich, on and off the court.
The Spurs head coach took Walke to dinner. That led to a light-hearted moment for the 19-year-old when the conversation turned to wine.
“He asked me and I said, No I'm 19, and he looked at me like, "What you don't drink wine?" Walker said. "No sir, I'm 19 years old, I can't drink yet.”
"We had some squid, we had fried oysters, a plethora of different types of foods,” Walker added.
Food and wine aside, Walker sees playing for Pop as an opportunity of a lifetime.
“Given the opportunity to have a coach like Gregg Popovich who’s going to make me even better, make me even grind harder is one thing that I want and I need,” Walker said.
New #Spurs SG Lonnie Walker said he got chills seeing his name in locker near Tony, Manu...compared SA experience, seeing banners to being in 'Disneyland.' Also talks work ethic, first dinner w/Popovich, but joked no wine (via @markmendez) #KSATsports #KSATnews #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/OjkdLgi4Op— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) June 29, 2018
It’s been a whirlwind few days for Walker. He’s been embraced by Spurs fans for his unique hairstyle and personality but understands the journey to one day be mentioned in the same breath as Tim Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili begins now.
Walker will wear silver and black for the first time this weekend when the Spurs begin their summer league schedule.
“I got a lot to prove, I got a lot to show and I'm hungry,” Walker said. “I’m starving and I'm ready to work and I'm ready to show that I'm one of the best players in the draft.”