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Byron Scott makes ridiculous optimism sound reasonable

Jul 29, 2014, 4:11 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Byron Scott Getty Images

When he used to sneak into The Forum to watch Jerry West, Byron Scott believed he’d grow up to join his hometown Lakers.

He did, starting for three championship teams in the 1980s.

When the Lakers dropped him in 1993, Scott believed Los Angeles was still where he belonged.

He returned, signing in 1996 for another season – Kobe Bryant’s rookie year – to retire a Laker.

When he began coaching, Scott believed he’d lead the Lakers someday.

That day is here.

“This has been a dream of mine for so long,” Scott said. “It’s a dream come true.”

Introduced as the Lakers’ newest coach, Scott made clear his passion for the franchise has only grown stronger with age. Even as the Lakers dragged their coaching search weeks longer than any other team, Scott didn’t worry.

“I’m a little arrogant when it comes to that, because I think I was the best decision and the right decision,” Scott said

How should a Lakers coach be judged?

“This organization is all about championships. Period,” Scott said. “We don’t look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships. We look at championships.”

And how close are the Lakers to contending for a title? Scott, asked specifically whether team could reach that level during the final two years of Kobe’s contract, said he didn’t want to establish timelines.

Then he couldn’t resist giving one more indication of his confidence.

“I don’t think long,” Scott said while trying to contain a smile.

The Lakers are nowhere near championship contention. They went 27-55 last season, their worst record since moving from Minneapolis. They added no impact free agents, and Kobe’s high salary will make it difficult to add other stars.

But if any team has the right to feel optimistic, it’s the Lakers. When the goal seemed distant, they’ve always found a way to reach it quicker than anyone expects.

And if any coach feels optimistic, it’s Scott who keeps living his dreams.

But there’s a fine line between optimism and denial.

Is Kobe still a big-time star just because Scott said he is?

Can Jeremy Lin become a pesky defender just because Scott said he could?

Was Julius Randle a top-three prospect in the draft just because Scott said he was?

Scott can’t just will the Lakers over the hump, though at times today it seemed that easy.

Flanked by Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes, Scott looked like a winner. It was easy to forget he went 24-58, 21-45, 19-63 and 3-6 in his last four seasons as coach.

But Scott says his experience with the Cleveland Cavaliers, New Orleans Hornets and New Jersey Nets was nothing like this.

“It’s kind of hard when the guys in the organization haven’t been to a Finals or haven’t won anything, for them to tell you how to get there when I’ve been there,” Scott

Scott believes he knows the championship recipe, and it’s hard to argue with résumé as a player. He was the glue – never talented enough to be an All-Star – every title team needs. As a coach, his record is spottier, though it includes back-to-back Finals appearances with New Jersey.

But as Scott will be quick to remind you conference championships don’t count here. In Los Angeles, the goals are set higher.

At least they will be.

Facing a question he surely never imagined while dreaming of this day, Scott was asked about reclaiming attention from the Clippers.

“I don’t think L.A. has gone to the Clippers yet, anyway,” Scott said. “This is still a Laker town. Period.”

Still, Scott expressed his respect for the rivalry and adding a dig worthy of true competitiveness.

“We have two teams now – one that has about 17 banners and one that doesn’t have any yet,” Scott said.

Actually, the Lakers have just 16 championships. Maybe Scott, stuck on that question about adding a title during Kobe’s next two years, was already counting the near future.

Optimistic or delusional?

I know the answer is delusion, but back with the Lakers, Scott makes his optimism sound so realistic.

  1. 4thquartermagic - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    Save this post PBT. When he “resigns” after 3 games I want to remember all the optimism.

  2. Hard On For Harden - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Well, they did add Jeremy Lin, and from everything I’ve been told about Houston having the most disastrous offseason in the history of professional sports, that must make him pretty darn awesome.

    • 4thquartermagic - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:32 PM

      Letting Parsons walk for 900k was pretty terrible.

      • Hard On For Harden - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        He obviously would have just left as an UFA next year, it was worth trying to scoop up a Bosh or Melo and match Parsons. They got knocked out of the first round by a Blazers team that was trounced by the Spurs, so they obviously weren’t just a small piece away from contending.

      • 4thquartermagic - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:56 PM

        All fair points.

        29 of 30 teams would have paid 900k for one year from Parsons.

      • Hard On For Harden - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:02 PM

        Looking it as a stand alone transaction, all 30 teams would have picked up the option. Given our situation and the Harden/Howard window, it made no sense. We’re trying to eventually win a title, not pay Parsons 900k only to lose him, just make it to the second round, and miss out on a rare occurrence where impact players like Bosh and Melo are available.

      • 4thquartermagic - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        So losing him one year earlier, also for nothing, makes more sense?

        I get the “if Bosh would’ve signed” angle, but the 900k risk is peanuts in the NBA. Houston got nothing for Parsons anyway. One more year for 900k would’ve been a steal.

      • Hard On For Harden - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:34 PM

        Yes, because we needed every last dollar to offer close to a max deal for Bosh or Melo. Dude signed a poison pill contract with a rival and had his buddy/entitled son of an Orlando lawyer tweet out the night club photo. Then he has the nerve to be bitter over them not matching and going after Harden who merely stated the obvious. Sorry, but I went to tons of games in a half empty Toyota Center in 2011-2012 and have witnessed his career first hand since. Even at the conclusion of last season, I don’t recall a single soul singing his praises as anything more than a solid role player. I don’t buy the piling on of Morey for basketball reasons, but for karma, people’s dislike of him because of the Asik/Lin poison pill deals, and writers like Bill Simmons going way over the top in their praise of him. Oh yeah, and there’s the whole Dwight Howard thing and the influx of new Rockets detractors because of the acquisition. Good times.

      • 4thquartermagic - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:46 PM

        Fair enough. You’ve watched Parsons more then most. Parsons is a role player who deserves role player money.

        900k is role player money.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:38 PM

        @HardOnForHarden How can you be so blind? Harden is in your username. Houston GOT harden because OKC was too stupid to pay $3 million for an extra year of him. Now your GM has made the same mistake.

        By the way Daryl Morey’s intention was to match Parson’s deal if Houston didn’t land Carmelo or Bosh… but then he got a bigger deal than expected and the Rockets are left with a much worse roster than last season. Just except it; it was a disastrous off season.

      • Hard On For Harden - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:29 PM

        Ha. Though I’m a Rockets fan, Harden’s in my username merely as a play on words, I wouldn’t even say I have a favorite player on the Rockets. It was Lowry before he was shipped to Toronto. Harden’s has his issues on defense and relying too much on whistles to score (which has been exposed in both playoffs), but with that being said the comparison to Parsons is laughable. At least Harden showed he could occasionally take over games and be a go to guy for OKC’s second unit, Parsons on the other hand not so much. The plan was to match Parsons if he got an offer in the 10-11 million year range (and I still thought that was too steep), but I think its a no brainer to not match the deal he signed with a rival and keep the cap flexibility around Harden/Howard. I don’t recall saying we were better off by not picking up the 900k option, but losing Parsons isn’t going to make or break the season. People endlessly mocked Morey’s ability to dump Lin and Asik, yet now they’re cited as examples of our “disastrous” offseason. Are we worse this year? Yes, although another year of chemistry within the system may get us back to a 5th seed. But are we better off going forward by maintaining flexibility around two max guys (who actually are worthy of those deals unlike Parsons)? Absolutely, any person with the crystal clear of vision would agree. If Parsons somehow lifts an 8th seeded Mavs team who benefitted from an outlier in Monta Ellis’s last few seasons to a WCF appearance I’ll rest my case, but I sincerely doubt it.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      Daryl Morey the genius gave him a big money contract, he must be awesome.

  3. antistratfordian - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    He likes to say “Period” a lot. Period. I think he’s full of it. Period. Old banners can’t play games for you. Period. The Clippers would sweep the Lakers in a playoff series. Period.

    • money2long - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      Anti is on his. Period.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        On his what? You put a period after ‘his’ and then started a new sentence, so nobody is going to know what you’re talking about.

        On his game? Then I agree.

      • handsomerob86 - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:27 PM

        Lol anti, I feel bad for you. Periods are what happens when girls hit puberty. Don’t worry, you figure this all out later…

    • k3nn3k - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      History is exactly that…it won’t win games for you THIS year Laker fans.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        Banners just sit in the rafters. They’re just spectators, like fans. They can’t do anything for you if you suck.

      • musician0785 - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        If you have 16 banners chances are you won’t “suck” for long…..pause

      • billtetley53 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:20 PM

        Leave it to pissy eyes to know all about sucking. You savage you.

    • musician0785 - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:37 PM

      about 2 days ago you were lamenting the fact that the lakers actually hired a good coach, and now the same coach is full of it? Pull ya skirt down…

      • antistratfordian - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:11 PM

        I think you have me confused with someone else.

        I believe I said, “It would be out of character for young Buss to go with the best option” in choosing Scott over better candidates.

      • musician0785 - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:37 PM

        “Wait a minute. This isn’t my world. DISAPPOINTED!!!

      • antistratfordian - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:50 PM

        You thought that was me saying the Lakers hired a good coach?

        I was disappointed that baby Buss had again made such a uninspiring hire.

        I had just watched that Hercules clip of Sorbo reading the stage direction… cla.ssic stuff, that.

      • musician0785 - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:33 PM

        most ridiculous bunch of bs you ever put on here…and that’s saying something

      • antistratfordian - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        What? I’m not following you here. My comments have all been the same about the hire – that it was disappointing but expected because short Buss has a hard time making good decisions.

        I mean, cmon – I actually said I was disappointed. I can’t make it any clearer than that. There is no other meaning.

        But you actually thought that I thought that Scott was a great coach, or the best coach for the job, and that I said “disappointed” because the Lakers hired a good coach? As if I’m sitting around wishing for the Lakers to hire bad coaches?? lol. I’m not. But it’s fascinating that you think that.

        If the Lakers hired a good coach, I would say, “hey, that’s a good hire.” But it’s been a while since they’ve done that.

    • dablakdrphil - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      I think were all in agreement that anti should just shut the hell up. Period.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:26 PM

        Cry more, hater. Exclamation point.

      • dablakdrphil - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:44 PM

        No crying over here, that’s what you seem to do almost every single day LOL!

  4. money2long - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    I bet a lot of people can’t wait to see the lakers play.
    They will always capture the public’s attention.

    • k3nn3k - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      Not last year, when they couldn’t sell out the Staples Center every game.

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:05 PM

        You know what’s funny? The Lakers even draw well on the road. Last year, the only teams that were bigger draws on the road were Miami, Chicago, Oklahoma City and the Mavericks. A 27-55 team filled 96.2% of stadiums on the road, without their best player.

      • k3nn3k - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:07 PM

        That’s not funny…that’s sad.

  5. smoothaswilkes - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    By the way, 16 is about 17. Then again it’s hard to keep track of so many titles anyway.

  6. buffalowned - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    A Lakers article about nothing…imagine that.

    • xonxrocket - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:17 AM

      At least it wasn’t about LeBron’s son fishing.

  7. sportsfan18 - Jul 29, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    Magic made Byron drink the Kool-Aid before talking.

    Magic, the Lakers are going to suck like last year too.

    I look forward to you talking about Byron the way you did about D’Antoni.

    And ya’ll know I’m NOT a Lakers fan.

  8. unfrozencavemanlawyer2 - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    Anti is on point in this one. The Lakers faithful can’t be terribly excited about this hire, can they? Early verdict on Jim Buss is not overly promising.

    • musician0785 - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:40 PM

      Drafted Bynum, then traded a Bynum with 1 knee for the best center in the game…..traded odom and gasol for cp3……he hasn’t done as a terrible a job as people are trying to make it seem…..His only mistake just happened to be his biggest one by not hiring Phil

      • billtetley53 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:26 PM

        Got one year out of a center that you laker fans say is overated now, but was the best center while on the lakers….typical hypocrisy.

        The lakers never traded for cp3, that wasnt approved, so its not a trade. Please show us anywhere where that trade was official. It never happenec, so wuit cryingvabout it and using it as an example.

        Another big mistake was giving kobe this last thank you contract.

      • musician0785 - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:33 PM

        Funny how you were nowhere to be found on the Kevin Garnett article….you see my name on this site an you HAVE to respond huh? what a groupie

      • musician0785 - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        He is both overrated and the best center in the league, the 2 aren’t mutually exclusive genius

  9. fordmandalay - Jul 29, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    I’m still gonna wear my Chamberlain, West, Abdul-Jabbar and Magic jerseys! (never bought a Kobe)

  10. dinofrank60 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    Those five guys in the picture, in their prime, would be a great team. In fact, those are five members of the ’83-84 champs.

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