Jul 29, 2014, 4:11 PM EDT
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.
May 27, 2015, 10:21 PM EDT
Will it stand?
May 27, 2015, 9:51 PM EDT
Who will it be (if anyone)?
May 27, 2015, 8:59 PM EDT
First Kobe, now Melo – Dudley goes scorched earth
May 27, 2015, 8:12 PM EDT
The Cavaliers are allowing 98.5 points per 100 possession in the playoffs, the best of the four teams to reach the conference Finals
May 27, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT
Will he become Anthony Davis’ next head coach?
Stephen Curry feels like there’s a bruise ‘all the way up and down’ his body, will likely wear arm sleeve in Game 5
May 27, 2015, 6:28 PM EDT
Warriors guard says he shot well with sleeve in shootaround
May 27, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT
If they want him gone, they just have to pull the trigger on the firing. Otherwise, bring him back.
May 27, 2015, 4:47 PM EDT
The Hawks had an exciting season, they filled an arena that in past years felt like a mausoleum, they played beautiful basketball for months at a time.
May 27, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT
May 27, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT
Free agents will still come to the Lakers, but their pool may be smaller than some other teams because of Kobe.
May 27, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
There were plenty of rumors to the contrary.
May 27, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT
Suns don’t need any more young players.
May 27, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
Plenty has changed since LeBron re-joined the Cavaliers last summer.
May 27, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Hawks, too, have some decisions to make this summer.
May 27, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
The offers won’t be as strong as they were in December.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak: ‘Anywhere from 4-8 players could be in consideration’ for No. 2 pick in NBA Draft
May 27, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
Eight seems like too many, but Kupchak has proven that he knows what he’s doing.
May 27, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
Finals begin June 4; complete schedule enclosed.
May 27, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT
A nice moment for the Cavaliers.
May 27, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT
LeBron strikes the iconic Dunkman pose.
May 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
They’re still tight.
- Dwight Howard hit with suspension-triggering technical foul 0
- PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ improved defense helps them to Finals 3
- Reports: Bulls getting closer to firing Tom Thibodeau 21
- PBT Extra: Despite ending, Hawks had season worth celebrating 3
- Bucks’ Jared Dudley: “Most guys don’t want to play with Kobe” 61
- PBT Extra: Expect a healthy Stephen Curry for Game 5… sorry Houston 4
- Hawks’ excellent season shouldn’t be discredited because of playoff exit 24
- Cavaliers complete sweep of Hawks, advance to NBA Finals 82