The press conference to announce the hiring of Byron Scott as head coach was executed perfectly by the Lakers, mixing enough of the past with the present to make fans forget about the train wreck of the previous season. With statements from Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Jamaal Wilkes before Scott answered questions, it felt more like a homecoming than anything else.
As someone who was starkly against hiring Scott earlier this off-season, I’m a certified drinker of the kool-aid.
I’m not going to reference him “knowing what means to be a Laker” because that’s garbage. to be frank. Partly due to his most recent tenure with Cleveland and somewhat due to the Lakers dragging their feet with the hire, fans have been turned off to Scott.
I’ve sat here myself and cited that his Finals appearances came in a weak Eastern Conference, and both series ended in sweeps. However, he did make the Finals.
His time in New Orleans ended in a flame out, but he matured Chris Paul into the league’s best point guard and led the Hornets (now Pelicans) to their best season in franchise history.
It’s no secret the Lakers whiffed on their last two head coaching hires. It’s the reason they took so long on this one. There’s no telling how this hire will pan out. The pessimism surrounding his hire is somewhat warranted, but puzzling.
Maybe the Lakers recent lack of success has dampened spirits. It’s gone hand in hand with the desire to tank away a season that hasn’t even started, equally puzzling. Scott has to prove he’s a worthy coach, and he’ll be given the time in LA. Fans will likely be reluctant to blame him to a fault.
The list of young players, mostly rookies, who developed under Scott include Richard Jefferson, Kenyon Martin, David West, Paul, Kyrie Irving, and even Brian Scalabrine. Fans worried about Julius Randle’s development have relatively unseeded fears.
Furthermore, he’ll command the respect of Kobe Bryant, as well as other veterans. Mike D’Antoni battled Bryant for the alpha role of the Lakers. Considering Bryant’s campaigning for Scott, the same issue likely won’t arise, although it’s equally impossible to predict that.
But it’s hard to argue that the Lakers didn’t win the day today. Seeing a large core of Showtime on stage, celebrating together at the Lakers facilities brought back warm memories.
It’s now Scott’s job to make new ones.