Skip to content

Byron Scott makes ridiculous optimism sound reasonable

Jul 29, 2014, 4:11 PM EST

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Hornets’ Kemba Walker has successful knee surgery, expected to miss a minimum of 6 weeks

    Jan 29, 2015, 12:01 AM EST

    New Orleans Pelicans v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    The good news is that Walker may return in as little as six weeks, which means Charlotte’s playoff chances should remain intact.

  2. George Gervin on Klay Thompson’s 37-point quarter: ‘I don’t feel he broke my record’

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:15 PM EST

    NBA All-Star Jam Session 2014 Getty Images

    The Hall of Famer held the previous record with 33 points in a period, but did so before the three-point line was implemented.

  3. NBA says Matt Barnes’ $25K fine had nothing to do with Suns owner Robert Sarver

    Jan 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EST

    Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    Barnes immediately played the victim card after receiving the fine, but the NBA (and the video) say otherwise.

  4. Phil Jackson denies illegally deflating basketballs while playing for the Knicks

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:50 PM EST

    Phil Jackson, James Dolan, executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company AP

    “Softer but not illegal,” Jackson attempted to clarify.

  5. LeBron James out Wednesday vs. Blazers with wrist injury

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Cleveland is just 1-8 without LeBron in the lineup this season.

  6. Kobe Bryant expected to be ready for start of 2015-16 season after undergoing successful shoulder surgery

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:37 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Bryant will miss the remainder of the current season, and is expected to be sidelined for nine months.

  7. J.R. Smith says he’s playing better in Cleveland because there’s less partying

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:13 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    One may have to work a little harder to find the late night parties in Cleveland.

  8. Bucks sign Jorge Gutierrez to 10-day contract

    Jan 28, 2015, 5:30 PM EST

    Jason Kidd AP

    Larry Sanders’ suspension allows Milwaukee to add 16th player

  9. Tayshaun Prince: “Obviously I want to be in a winning situation”

    Jan 28, 2015, 4:45 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    He is likely bought out if the Celtics can’t find a trade partner.

  10. Nets doctor expects Mirza Teletovic to make full recovery

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:55 PM EST

    Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Teletovic being released from hospital today

  11. Phil Jackson once admitted championship Knicks deflated balls

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:17 PM EST

    Jackson AP

    Jackson said breaking rule gave New York an edge due to team’s style of play

  12. Kevin Durant out against Knicks

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:42 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Thunder remain heavy favorites

  13. Report: Terrence Ross riding bench in Toronto but will not be traded

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:05 PM EST

    Philadelphia 76ers V Toronto Raptors Getty Images

    The Raptors are trying to be patient and tap into his potential.

  14. Nikola Mirotic’s unique style rewarding Bulls for waiting on him

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:17 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls V San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    Mirotic, drafted in 2011, is a darkhorse challenger to Andrew Wiggins for Rookie of the Year

  15. Report: Executives have proposed moving up NBA trade deadline

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:59 AM EST

    Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    It probably would matter less than before, but why change the date?

Featured video

Who should be All-Star Game reserves?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (6941)
  2. H. Whiteside (6745)
  3. R. Rubio (6585)
  4. C. Anthony (6516)
  5. K. Martin (6330)
  1. D. Howard (6324)
  2. N. Batum (6187)
  3. K. Walker (5986)
  4. T. Jones (5531)
  5. L. Aldridge (5324)