The proud Lakers’ coach inherited his job a season after the franchise completed their worst finish since moving to Los Angeles over five decades ago. Yet, Byron Scott still talked about NBA championship aspirations. His first season ended with the Lakers’ worst record in the franchise’s 67-year-old history. Yet, Scott still talked during training camp about trying to make the NBA playoffs.
But with the Lakers (2-9) entering Friday’s game against the Toronto Raptors (7-6) at Staples Center as the Western Conference’s second-worst team, Scott declined to predict the Lakers could make the playoffs.
“This team doesn’t have Magic [Johnson],” Scott said. “We have James [Worthy], but not in uniform. Cap isn’t here. I wont do that, no.”
It seems understandable now about Scott’s skepticism. But a reporter brought that up amid a conversation surrounding the undefeated Golden State Warriors (13-0) and Scott’s memories of the “Showtime Lakers.”
Scott called the Warriors “by far, right now, they’re the best team in the league” after winning the 2015 NBA championship. He did not sound surprised the Warriors overcame a 23-point deficit on Thursday to defeat the Clippers. Scott argued the Warriors “don’t have that championship hangover.”
Scott then reflected on how the Lakers’ 1988 NBA championship team showed the same hunger after former Lakers coach Pat Riley infamously predicted the team would repeat in a speech at the 1987 NBA championship parade.
“When he said, guarantee, I knew vacation is over,” said Scott, who began training in early July as opposed to August. “We really have to come ready next year. We came back that year even more focused to do something that hadn’t been done in 20 years at that time.”
The Lakers are far removed from those glory years.
So as Scott watched the Warriors’ comeback over the Clippers, the Lakers’ coach could not help but reflect on the more pleasant past. Scott won three NBA championships with the Showtime Lakers in 1985, 1987 and 1988, while losing in the NBA Finals in 1984 and 1989.
“I miss that a lot. I love that,” Scott said. “That’s the best form of competition right there when you see two teams battling it out. Those two teams don’t like each other much anyway. It reminds me of Lakers-Celtics. When I’m looking at that, it brings back a lot of memories … You feel that hunger and passion for it and always feel like yu want to be back out there and going through that. Then you start to feel that hatred for that other team as well.”
Scott hardly feels that hatred toward Golden State, though.
He lamented, “When they go small, they’re a [expletive].” Scott argued, “the only thing that can stop them are injuries.” Scott called forward Draymond Green “the glue of the team” before praising him for improving after signing to a five-year, $82 million contract. When informed Clippers coach Doc Rivers has suggested Golden State benefited from avoiding San Antonio in the 2015 NBA playoffs, Scott asked incredulously, “Why are we talking about last year?”
“I can’t pinpoint one thing that separates them,” Scott said. “Right now, they’re playing with so much confidence. It seems to me watching them play, they have a certain swagger about themselves that’s totally different than last year. I just think they got so much more confident. It’s not one or two guys. It seemed like their whole team is much hungrier than last year. It starts with Steph [Curry]. He’s come out with a vengeance and everybody else has piggy backed on it.”
All of which could produce a handful for the Lakers when they visit Golden State next Tuesday.
“I care about just getting better,” Scott said. “We are getting better on the defensive end. We have to find a way to take advantage of it and cash in. We’re doing a lot of good things on both ends of the floor. We just have to figure out a way to cash in on it.”
Hence, Scott’s refusal to continue predicting about a playoff appearance.
Lakers’ Byron Scott won’t make lineup changes yet despite poor rebounding
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