TORONTO — Byron Scott looked relaxed and sounded at peace as he sat on the scorer’s table following morning shootaround in preparation for when the Lakers (19-51) visit the Toronto Raptors (42-30) tonight here at Air Canada Centre.
But this week became a whirlwind for the Lakers coach. He missed two games this week in Oklahoma City and Minnesota so he could attend funeral services for his mother, Dorothy, who died March 15 at the age of 72.
“It’s good to be back with the team and guys,” Scott said. “I’ve been holding up pretty well. It was good Wednesday to put everything to rest. It’s obviously been heavy on my mind and still is. But I know my mom. She would say, ‘Keep moving on, keep doing what you’re doing and keep trying to do it to the best of your ability.'”
Incidentally, Scott spoke during funeral services on Wednesday about her mother’s courage and strength, two qualities that he credited toward helping him coach a full week while privately grieving over her passing. Scott shared that he broke down crying in Golden State the first morning following Dorothy’s death. But as he coached three games and conducted a full week of practice, various Lakers players said Scott did not show any noticeable signs of distress. Forward Ed Davis and Wayne Ellington, in particular, said they were only aware of the news once the Lakers announced it on March 22, two days before the team’s five-game trip.
“Most of the time it was being with those guys helping me get through it. I felt it the most when I was at home or in my office,” Scott said. “I just think about her saying stay strong. I know her. She’s the strongest person I’ve ever been around. That kept me going and seeing my grandkids and seeing my kids. That kept everything in the right perspective.”
Scott’s lead assistant, Paul Pressey, filled in during his absence. But Scott still kept tabs on his team. He watched the Lakers’ 127-117 loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, the Lakers coach bemoaning the team’s struggles on defense and rebounding. Scott also listened to the Lakers’ win in Minnesota on the radio following funeral services.
Meanwhile, Scott instructed Pressey beforehand on who he wanted to play, sitting veterans Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer for the sake of letting the team’s younger forwards develop. Scott also plans to sit them tonight against Toronto before adding Boozer and Hill might play in Brookyln (Sunday) and Philadelphia (Monday).
Scott described the transition process back to work as “slowly but surely.” But Scott expressed gratitude to Lakers president Jeanie Buss, executive Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak for granting him time off.
“It’s a hard transition,” Scott said. “She’s always on my mind. Every morning I wake up, I say ‘Good morning’ to her and every night I go to bed, I say ‘Goodnight’ to her.”