Commentary: Byron Scott Isn’t the Right Pick to Revive L.A. Lakers

Effort to recapture "Showtime" isn’t the right move for a team short on marquee talent.

Posted: 07/28/2014 12:17 PM EDT
Byron Scott

OK, so what if Kobe Bryant has mad respect for Byron Scott? What does that tell you about Scott’s fitness to coach Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA title?

That’s a question Lakers fans will see answered now that Scott is the team’s new coach, and what he’ll bring most to Los Angeles are memories of “Showtime.”

But Lakers fans and the Buss family must quit trying to recapture “Showtime,” which remains deep into their yesteryear; it won’t be returning simply because they want it back.

For these Lakers look more like the old L.A. Clippers than they do the old Lakers, and old Lakers can’t suit up and bring another championship banner. Not even Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich could coach this team to greatness. You win with talent, not with memories.

The Lakers have a lot of the latter; they have not much of the former.

So perhaps their decision to hire Scott, a link to the glory days of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy, wasn’t a bad one. He will stroll into the Staples Center next season dragging those memories with him.

Yet that won’t be enough to satisfy the grand expectations of Lakers fans. They will be as impatient about success as Cleveland fans were when Scott coached their Cavaliers to three seasons of mediocrity.

As Cavs coach, Scott was so detached from the demands of rebuilding that fans couldn’t wait to see him run for the Ohio borders. He was pure Hollywood glam in a Rust Belt city that was decidedly blue collar.

Unlike the remade Cavaliers, these Lakers need a coach who is up to the grind. The storied franchise is in a total rebuild, despite the presence of Kobe. That’s made the hiring of Scott a curious decision, even more curious than the hiring of Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni.

Both of those hires proved disasters for the Buss family, which watched the Lakers drop from one of the elite teams in the NBA to a team that will be competing for lottery picks.

In some ways, hiring Scott is the rehiring of D’Antoni. Neither coach understands or appreciates defense, which has reshaped how the game is played in this era of NBA hoops.

Scott can get out of the way and let Kobe run the offense, but on defense, Scott will need to spend more time on X's and O's than on tee times.

His lax work habits slowed down the development of a youthful Cavaliers team, and unless he ratchets up his work ethic, he will have no more success in rebuilding the Lakers than he had with the Cavs.

No reason to worry about Scott. He got a job when teams should have been reluctant to give him one. Now, can he keep it? Will Scott be a coach who can squeeze greatness out of the mediocre?

To bet against Scott would be to put your money on a sure thing. He won’t do much to bring Showtime back to L.A. unless he can find talent on a roster that is short of it.

And he’ll need his tee times if he hopes to find some place to relax and get away from the L.A. expectations. He won’t be able to do either as he plops his butt down on the team’s bench and watches as his Lakers limp toward a lottery pick.

What kind of show will that be?

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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