The Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday morning introduced their new head coach Byron Scott, and he wasted no time in establishing what his goals are for the team, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“This organization is all about championships,” Scott said. “Period. We don’t look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships, we look at [NBA] championships. And we know we have some work ahead of us, but I’m excited, I’m just thrilled to death, I’m eager and just ready to get to work, just ready to get to work. I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I look forward to it. I love challenges anyway so this is going to be fun.”
Scott on Monday officially became the 25th head coach in franchise history after he signed a four-year deal worth $17 million with a team option for the fourth season. He received much support at his press conference from some of his former teammates in Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Jamaal Wilkes, who he won three NBA titles with playing during the Lakers’ Showtime Era in the 1980s.
“We came here today to support our brother and our former teammate and champion Byron Scott and also we’re here to support the Laker organization,” Johnson said. “This is a great day for all the former Lakers as well as Lakers fans all over the world. We’re just excited for what Byron will bring to the table and get back to playing Laker basketball. … We wish we could put on a uniform for you and help you, but we’re here supporting you and will support you throughout. Again, congrats to the Laker organization. You chose the right guy.”
Los Angeles had been without a coach since April 30 when Mike D’Antoni decided to step down from the position, and had spoken to several candidates for the position that also included Lionel Hollins, Kurt Rambis, Alvin Gentry, George Karl, and Mike Dunleavy. However, Scott from the start was perceived as the favorite to win the job given his connection to the organization, strong relationship with Kobe Bryant, and also the fact that he was the only person to interview multiple times for the vacancy.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak confirmed that notion on Tuesday and went as far as stating that the 53-year-old was the team’s first choice in the elongated process.
“I just want to thank him for his patience the last six or seven weeks,” Kupchak said. “I think it was clear, at least it was clear to us, that Byron was always our first choice.”
Scott has experienced much success in his 13 years as a head coach in the NBA as he led the New Jersey Nets to back-to-back Finals appearances, and won the Coach of the Year award in the 2007-08 season by guiding the New Orleans Hornets to the second-best record in the Western Conference.
Now as the head coach of the Lakers, Scott has the tough task of bringing back the organization to relevance after a disastrous 2013-14 season that saw the team finish with a 27-55 record. That said, he emphasized on changing the culture of the team back to a single mindset focused on winning games.
“I think the first thing you got to do is get them thinking like we used to think,” Scott said. “Because everything to me is: if you’re winning, it’s contagious; if you’re losing, it’s contagious. So you got to change that mindset. That’s the first thing we got to do. The first day of training camp is all about winning. It’s nothing else. You don’t think about losing. You think about winning. When you lose games, you shouldn’t be sitting in the locker room having a good time. It should hurt. So, again, with those three gentlemen (Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and Wilkes), when we lost games it was quiet as can be in the locker room because we didn’t expect to lose. We got to get our guys thinking the same way. We got to get back to winning.”
Adding to that train of thought, Scott stated that the Lakers will have to build their pillar of success on playing solid defense on a “night-to-night basis” in order to reach the ultimate goal of an NBA title. As for the roster of the team, he described it as “competitive” with a solid mixture of youth and experienced players.
Scott also expressed his excitement for the opportunity to coach his former teammate Bryant, who he played with in the 1996-97 season.
“I’m looking forward to coaching Kobe,” Scott said. “I know his drive and I know his will and his determination. I think we’re on the same page as far as how we think about this game and how it should be played. So, it’s going to be fun. He has to be a little patient, we know that as well.”
Above all else, the Inglewood native is ready to lead his former team in any way possible back to what he has known the organization to be, that is a franchise which only means of success is measured by championships.
Watch below Scott being introduced as the Lakers head coach:
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes