By Dylan Tehada
UPB’s very own Player Development Coach, Walter Lum, spent two weeks this summer working as a Team Assistant for the San Antonio Spurs during the 2023 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
During his two week stint, Lum played a vital role in making sure practices and games went smoothly for the Spurs, acting as liaison for the team. His main tasks involved supporting the players during practice by making sure they had water and equipment for drills along with helping the player development staff on court before and during games. Additionally, he assisted the team with travel plans by helping pack the buses that transported the team to and from each venue in Vegas.
Lum was indeed in his element being surrounded by staff members of the Spurs and fellow player development team members. In fact, he found the people he surrounded himself with during his Summer League work to be the highlight of his experience.
“I enjoyed just connecting with some of the staff members for the Spurs since I worked for them last summer, already establishing [those relationships] and then just [building] on that from the previous year,” Lum said.
On top of the excitement surrounding the Summer League overall, there was potentially more hype surrounding the San Antonio Spurs franchise in particular. After selecting highly coveted prospect, Victor Wembanyama, with the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, the Spurs have been the center of attention this NBA offseason. Lum recounts his experience as an assistant for the team in the midst of all the buzz and hype around the new face of the Spurs and spoke on what the first two games with Wembanyama was like.
“There [was] a lot of hype around Wembanyama coming in that first game and the arena was sold out. There's just a lot of anticipation, a lot of security for him. A lot of media, trying to get cameras in his face and stuff like that. So it was a lot of fun to see it,” Lum said.
As Lum continues to pave his career path and strive towards the goal of eventually working in the NBA, he gives a lot of credit to his experience in the Summer League to help him get to where he wants to be. Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of his experience aside from being in the midst of NBA level talent, he also had plenty of opportunities to network with individuals within the Spurs organization and on other teams as well.
One aspect of the Summer League staff that he recalls is that not everyone working during the event has set in stone jobs in the league. Most are working part time or as interns for the teams and the NBA in hopes of moving further up and securing full time roles. Lum expressed what this role meant to him and how it affects his future endeavors.
“It means a lot. I think it's just a great experience and opportunity for me that I was able to have. It's a really big door opener. I think summer league is probably, you know, if you try to work in the NBA, that's a great place to start,” Lum said.
One big lesson Lum took with him during his time in the Summer League was to be very deliberate and purposeful in every task he was given. Even if he did not garner attention from members of the Spurs organization, there might be other teams that recognize his efforts and could open a door for him in his career.
Overall, Lum advises that if you want to work in the NBA it is important to know what role you are striving for whether it be in operations or player development. Lum is open to both sides of being on the court and also doing the behind the scenes work, but being fresh out of college and young enough to be on court, Lum seeks to find his place on the player development side working with players individually.
Working at UPB has given Lum a lot of insight as to what he seeks to do with the rest of his professional career. As a player development coach, Lum has found a passion for coaching players individually and developing strong bonds with them. He has learned a lot at UPB about how to connect with the players he mentors and how to help them reach their full potential.
“I think working at UPB has helped in terms of just learning how different players respond to training and certain types of coaching styles as well as being able to build those connections with those players. That's something that I like more of than being on the coaching side where it becomes more of a role specific type of relationship. As a trainer-player relationship I feel that it is very equal in terms of helping each other out,” Lum said.