Magic Johnson on Byron Scott: ‘We chose the right coach.’

Magic Johnson (pictured speaking at Cal State Long Beach) said he is thrilled with the hiring of Byron Scott as the Lakers new head coach.  Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Magic Johnson (pictured speaking at Cal State Long Beach) said he is thrilled with the hiring of Byron Scott as the Lakers new head coach.
Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

When Byron Scott joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 1983 he was the fourth overall pick in that year’s draft out of Arizona State. After three years with the Sun Devils, he left as the school’s all-time leading scorer and a second-team All-American selection.

That meant nothing to his teammates.

“When we brought him in, we didn’t speak to him,” former teammate and Laker legend Magic Johnson said Tuesday at Scott’s press conference introducing him as the team’s new head coach. “He was a just a college kid. So we wouldn’t speak to him, and we wouldn’t sit with him. He would have to go sit by himself at lunch and dinner. We smacked him and elbowed him because we wanted to understand what we were getting.”

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Byron Scott confident he can coexist with Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, looks to pass around Indiana Pacers forward Paul George in an NBA basketball game in March 2013.  Bryant played only six games last season. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, looks to pass around Indiana Pacers forward Paul George in an NBA basketball game in March 2013. Bryant played only six games last season. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

In 1996, an 18-year-old Kobe Bryant just starting his NBA career, shared a sideline with Byron Scott, who was ending his own. Faded photos almost two decades old show the pair sitting next to each other on the sideline, dressed in bright yellow warm up suits: the rookie and the veteran.

This season, they will be the aging superstar and the new coach.

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New Lakers head coach Byron Scott thinks current roster can be competitive

Byron Scott said he agreed to coach the Lakers next season. AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Byron Scott said he agreed to coach the Lakers next season. AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t exactly hit the home runs they were hoping for in free agency after going after superstars LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and ultimately losing out to Cleveland and New York.

But the roster additions they were able to make, which include Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis, were enough to have new head coach Byron Scott excited. Continue reading

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Magic Johnson on the ruling in Donald Sterling case: (Smiles)

At today’s press conference introducing Byron Scott as head coach of the Lakers, Magic Johnson was asked about his response to the ruling in the Donald Sterling case – allowing the sale to Steve Ballmer to proceed. Here’s what he said:

“What’s my reaction to the Sterling ruling? What do you think my reaction to the Sterling thing is? (Smiles) Do you see this? I don’t think you see this. (Laughs) I don’t have anything bad to say about him right now. I’ve said already that I’m praying for the man. But it’s a great day for Clipper fans, for this city. Ballmer is going to be an exciting owner, and a good owner for the Clippers. You talk about a guy who wants to win, and who loves basketball. He’s going to do everything he can to put them in a championship position because he wants to win so bad. You have to give Shelly a lot of credit. This was tough for her. But I respect what he did. I have no ill-feelings toward Donald. It was too bad what happened. But when you’ve been discriminated against this long, this is what happened. I hoped that this thing would end soon because we need to get back to our lives and you guys need to start cheering for the Dodgers as we approach the playoffs.”

From Jill Painter, Los Angeles News Group

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NBA Finals: Lakers faced issues with humidity, no air conditioning vs. Boston in 1984 Finals

The air conditioning remained shut off. A star player appeared negatively affected by the conditions. And his opponent gleefully took advantage of the circumstances.

That about sums up the San Antonio Spurs’ 110-95 Game 1 victory over the Miami Heat, a game that featured a broken AC unit, LeBron James missed the last part of the fourth quarter because of cramps and the Spurs reeling off 16 of the game’s last 19 points. Similar circumstances happened in Game of the 1984 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Boston Celtics, a contest that featured such steamy conditions that it became dubbed “The Heat Game.”

The Lakers had entered the Boston Garden accustomed to the arena’s lack of air conditioning. But this time, it became too unbearable. That never-ending reality coupled with a Boston heat wave set up temperatures inside the building that CBS reported to be measured at 97 degrees, leading many central characters suddenly evaporating on the court.

The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan reported referee Hugh Evans needed to stop at halftime due to dehydration. Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar needed to breathe out of an oxygen mask during stoppage time as he labored through a 7 of 25 performance. And with the Lakers lacking much from their star player, the Celtics largely benefited from Larry Bird posting 34 points on 15-of-20 shooting and 17 boards.

““I play in this stuff all the time back home,” Bird said, according to Pro Basketball Talk. “It’s like this all summer.”
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Magic Johnson supportive of Steve Ballmer’s bid to purchase Clippers

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Microsoft is using a three-day conference this week to give people a peek into Windows 8.1, a free update that promises to address some of the gripes people have with the latest version of the company's flagship operating system. A preview version of Windows 8.1 was released Wednesday at the start of the Build conference for Microsoft partners and other technology developers. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Microsoft is using a three-day conference this week to give people a peek into Windows 8.1, a free update that promises to address some of the gripes people have with the latest version of the company’s flagship operating system. A preview version of Windows 8.1 was released Wednesday at the start of the Build conference for Microsoft partners and other technology developers. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The move denies Magic Johnson the chance to be a part of ownership group that would have overseen what could have marked the third Los Angeles-based sports franchise where he exerts influence. Yet, Johnson sounded as gracious on Twitter about former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer making a $2 billion bid to purchase the Clippers as the former Lakers great shows with his infectious smile.

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Donald Sterling scandal: Magic Johnson would rather own Lakers than Clippers

Instead of offering apologies to Magic Johnson for making racially disparaging remarks about him, Donald Sterling threw some more verbal grenades.

On an appearance with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the Clippers’ embattled owner threw out unsubstantiated charges that Magic Johnson fails to help minorities. Sterling criticized Johnson for contracting the HIV virus stemmed from previous infidelities that forced his initial retirement in 1991. Sterling downplayed Johnson’s role in bolstering funds through his foundation for AIDS and HIV awareness through education, treatment and research.

Underneath Sterling’s unprompted attacks on the Lakers’ legend reveals his belief that Johnson has tried leaving him out to try dry so he could position himself to purchase the Clippers.

“He just said: “’Wait. Be patient,’” Sterling said on CNN when describing his attempt to apologize. “‘I will help you. We will — we will work it out. I think he wanted me just to do nothing, so he could buy the team.”

No doubt, Johnson has expressed interest in the Clippers whenever it is put up for sale. But Johnson laughed off Sterling’s assertion, saying he has much more preference in owning a franchise where he once won five NBA championships instead of its crosstown rival.

“This notion that I want his team? If I was going to trick somebody, deceive somebody, be dishonest to somebody, steal somebody’s franchise, it is going to be the Los Angeles Lakers,” Johnson said on Anderson Cooper 360.° Let’s make that clear right now. It won’t be the L.A. Clippers.”

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Magic Johnson reflects on final moment with late Lakers owner Jerry Buss

Lakers legend Magic Johnson spoke at Cal State Long Beach Monday, May 05, 2014, Long Beach, CA.  Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Lakers legend Magic Johnson spoke at Cal State Long Beach
Monday, May 05, 2014, Long Beach, CA.
Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Magic Johnson’s talk with Long Beach State University students at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center on Monday night was a night filled with laughs and that trademark Magic smile.

But there were also tear-jerking moments.

Johnson was asked in the early portion of the Q/A what marked his favorite moment with former Lakers owner Dr. Buss, who passed away last year in February. Johnson said there was too many to choose from, but ultimately decided on his final moment with Buss.

The former Lakers great told the crowd the story of when he went to visit Buss in the hospital, being told by Buss’ daughter, Jeanie, that he was not doing very well.

“I went into the hospital room and he just perked up. And we just started talking about the run that we had, all the championships and all the moments we had together. We sat there for hours, just talking and laughed. And I was thanking him for being a father figure,” said Johnson. “And I knew I was saying goodbye. So I held his hand and we got a chance to reminisce and talk about how we built the Lakers to what they are today.

“When we left each other we both just started crying, because we knew that was going to be the last time for both of us.”

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Magic Johnson picks Michael Jordan over Kobe Bryant; offers high praise of Bryant

LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES:  Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls (L) eyes the basket as he is guarded by Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers during their 01 February game in Los Angeles, CA. Jordan will appear in his 12th NBA All-Star game 08 February while Bryant will make his first All-Star appearance. The Lakers won the game 112-87.  AFP PHOTO/Vince BUCCI (Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls (L) eyes the basket as he is guarded by Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers during their 01 February game in Los Angeles, CA. Jordan will appear in his 12th NBA All-Star game 08 February while Bryant will make his first All-Star appearance. The Lakers won the game 112-87. AFP PHOTO/Vince BUCCI (Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images)

During the Q/A portion of Magic Johnson’s “Evening With” series at Long Beach State University Monday evening, the former Lakers great was asked to choose between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

“Jordan over Kobe, even though I like Kobe a lot and Kobe is my man,” said Johnson. “But Michael Jordan never lost a Finals. Six trips and 6-0.”

“I love Kobe, but he is not Michael. But he’s the closest to (him) that we have ever seen. Kobe got game.”

Even though he called it an “easy” decision to pick Jordan over Bryant, Johnson did not hesitate to offer high praise of the Lakers superstar, who missed the majority of the season with knee injuries.

“I hope that (Kobe) is healthy so he can lead our Lakers back,” said Johnson. “He’s on my Mount Rushmore. He is unreal. Think about his mindset and attitude and how he can just do it night in and night out. That’s one thing great about Kobe. I love him.”

Johnson was also asked to choose between LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He said that was also an easy choice to make, seeing as James can beat an opponent in so many ways. But Johnson called Durant the MVP this season.

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Clippers balloons draped on Lakers’ statues

The Clippers have already draped their player-featured posters over the Lakers’ championship banners and retired jersey. They have at least temporarily taken away the conversation from the Lakers’ woes that ensured their worst season since moving to Los Angeles 54 years ago and shifted talk to their first-round series against Golden State. And now, the Clippers have done this – tie red-and-blue balloons onto the heels of every Lakers statue outside Staples Center.

Yup, the video above shows balloons around Magic Johnson and Jerry West while they direct the offense, around Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as he shoots a skyhook and while around the late Chick Hearn while he calls the action.

All of this will lead to inevitable outrage among Lakers fans. They will stew about the apparent disrespect even though the Clippers can host their games at Staples Center however they see fit. They will make jokes that the Clippers feature balloons while the Lakers feature statues. They will brag about the Lakers’ storied championship history. They will then lament that foundation won’t temporarily fix the Lakers’ lost season.

There is an easy solution of course: don’t look at the balloons. There’s a more difficult solution: the Lakers’ quest to rebuild quickly.

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Lakers’ Kobe Bryant begins on-court training


Golden State’s Mark Jackson keeping the faith through uncertainty


Dirk Nowitzki tells Steve Nash he’s skeptical he’d return if he had similar injury

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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