A prominent NBA head coach has been accused of sexual assault by an NBA reporter, according to a newly announced lawsuit.
According to TMZ, which obtained the lawsuit, Luke Walton has been sued by NBA reporter Kelli Tennant, who alleges that Walton came up to her hotel room in Santa Monica, touched her inappropriately, and “pinned her to the bed, placing his hips and legs over her body.” The suit claims that the incident took place during Walton’s time as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors, which was from 2014 to 2016.
Deadspin reported that Walton wrote a foreword for Tennant’s book, which was published in 2014, discussion of which provided a pretext for the hotel room meeting, and that Walton continued to behave inappropriately when they saw each other subsequently, including one incident in which the coach “uttered vulgar, guttural sounds at her in a lewd manner.”
The accusation is part of a lawsuit, and Walton is not known to be facing criminal charges.
Walton, who had a couple of lengthy stints as interim coach of the Warriors during Steve Kerr’s health-related leaves of absence, spent three seasons as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, before parting ways with the organization earlier this month. Days later, he was named coach of the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings issued a statement to the media that “we are aware of the report and are gathering additional information. We have no further comment at this time.”
The son of Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton, the 39-year-old Walton played college basketball at Arizona, before playing 10 seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Lakers. Walton has been married since 2013 to his longtime girlfriend, Bre Ladd, whom he had met while at the University of Arizona.
Tennant, who formerly worked for SportsNet LA, was a competitive volleyball player prior to her career as a broadcaster. Her book is called The Transition: Every Athlete’s Guide to Life After Sports, and in it she talks about how she decided to give up playing volleyball.
“I’m ready for what’s next,” Tennant wrote in an Instagram post last week. “I desire more. I choose this life. I surrender to what’s meant to be. I open to whatever is for me. I let go of things no longer serving me. I use my voice. I find courage in my truth. I am joyful in leadership. I operate from love. I am of greatest service.”