MILWAUKEE — Moments before the Lakers (13-35) tip off against the Milwaukee Bucks (25-22) on Wednesday at BMO Harris Bradley Center, plenty of intrigue will emerge on if Lakers coach Byron Scott and Bucks coach Jason Kidd share any interactions.
Scott once coached Kidd with the former New Jersey Nets (2000-2004) that resulted in two NBA Finals appearances. But Scott hardly looks back at his time coaching Kidd with nostalgia.
“He’s kind of known as being an a–hole,” Scott said.
The tension partly stems from multiple reports saying over the years that Kidd conspired against Scott by leading a locker room mutiny and expressing dissatisfaction to the Nets’ front office. The Nets eventually fired Scott in 2004.
“That’s all I’ve heard. Now did he actually go and talk to Rod Thorn and those guys?” Scott said, referring to the Nets’ former president. “I never got that story. I always said though, ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.’ I’m in a much better place and I’m sure he’s happy where he is.”
Scott said Kidd has “done a good job” in his first season coaching the Bucks. They are ranked as the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed a season after finishing with a 15-67. But with a decade gone by, Scott has not reconciled with Kidd.
“Cordial, and that’s about as good as it’s going to get too,” said Scott in describing his relationship with Kidd. “There’s nothing to patch up. It’s cordial. I respect him as a basketball player and now as a coach. But other than that, we’re not going to be swapping spit, having dinner or playing golf.”
Well, there was one thing Scott took issues with regarding Kidd’s coaching last season with the Brooklyn Nets. Scott shook his head in dismay over Kidd intentionally spilling a drink on the floor in the waning seconds of a Lakers’ regular-season win over the Nets in an attempt to stop the game without any timeouts remaining.
“He should’ve been fined more,” Scott said regarding the NBA’s $50,000 fine. “I wasn’t the only one who was surprised he wasn’t fined more. It was so obvious.”
Scott’s tone hardly suggested any bitterness over his past experiences. He just answered questions honestly from reporters. Scott also maintained that he “didn’t feel at any point that my career in coaching was over” after the Nets fired him in what marked his first coaching stint. Scott turned out clairvoyant.
He had multiple coaching gigs with the former New Orleans Hornets (2004-08), Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-2013) and Lakers (present). Scott also maintained strong relationships with other star players, including Chris Paul (New Orleans), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland) and Kobe Bryant (Lakers).
“I played with star players. Magic [Johnson] was probably the biggest star you could get,” Scott said. “But he was also the best teammate I ever had. He’s one of those guys that would just go through a wall for you. He would play as hard as he could. He wanted everybody to be successful. That was the great thing about Earvin and a coach’s dream. Him and [Pat Riley] had an unbelievable relationship. Magic let him coach. That’s what was fantastic.”
Scott never felt that partnership with Kidd as Johnson did with Riley. Hence, Scott smiled on whether the Lakers’ upcoming game against Milwaukee will have extra meaning considering this will mark the first time he faces against Kidd as opposing NBA coaches.
“I would love to win. But I want to win every night,” Scott said. “The bottom line is we had a lot of success together as well.”
Yet, that wasn’t enough to prompt Scott to speak about Kidd in glowing terms.