Great Scott! Lakers finally introduce new head coach

July 29, 2014
Byron Scott, bottom left, is hugged by former teammate Magic Johnson, left, as Scott is introduced by Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, right, as the successor to Mike D'Antoni as the Lakers' head coach during a news conference in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Scott is coming home for his fourth NBA coaching job. He inherits a team that missed the playoffs for just the third time in 38 years. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Byron Scott, bottom left, is hugged by former teammate Magic Johnson, left, as Scott is introduced by Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, right, as the successor to Mike D’Antoni as the Lakers’ head coach during a news conference in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Scott is coming home for his fourth NBA coaching job. He inherits a team that missed the playoffs for just the third time in 38 years. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

(CNS) – Byron Scott was introduced Tuesday as the Los Angeles Lakers new coach, returning to the team he played with for 11 seasons, including as the starting shooting guard on three NBA championship teams in the 1980s.

“We know we have some work ahead of us, but I’m excited,” Scott said at a news conference at the Toyota Sports Center. “I mean, just thrilled to death. I’m eager. Just ready to get to work. Just ready to get to work. I know
it’s going to be a challenge, but I look forward to it. You know, I love challenges anyway, so this is going to be fun.”

Mitch Kupchak, the team’s general manager, announced Monday that Scott had signed a multi-year contract. The announcement capped weeks of speculation following a series of interviews Scott had with the team. Scott said he was peppered with questions from fans — so much so that he “had to get out of town for a few days just to relax.”

“But you know, patience is a virtue, and it’s well worth it,” he said. “And I’m glad to be back with this organization, which I think is the best in all of sports.”

Scott’s former teammates Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes were among those who attended the morning news conference. He said the lessons he learned from them as teammates will carry over into his coaching.

“The main thing I have to do right away is establish ourselves as a defensive basketball team,” Scott said. “These three gentlemen sitting in this front row, the first thing Magic taught me when I got in this league is we win championships by defending every single night. Offense is going to come and go — you’re going to miss shots, you’re gonna make shots, but you know, the one thing you control every single night is your effort on the defensive end.

“So we have to obviously get that back in the plans. Guys have to understand that that’s what it’s going to take and they have to be held accountable for that.”

Kupchak said Monday that Scott “has proven himself at the highest levels of the game as both a player and a coach in his almost 30 years of NBA experience.”

“His leadership skills and track record for success make him the ideal person to lead this franchise forward.”

Scott succeeds Mike D’Antoni, who resigned in April after the team posted a 27-55 record in the 2013-14 season, its worst since moving to Los Angeles in 1960.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Scott, a graduate of Morningside High School in Inglewood, was an analyst on Laker pregame and postgame shows this past season on Time Warner Cable SportsNet after coaching 13 seasons in the NBA with three teams. His
career coaching record is 416-521, a .444 winning percentage.

Scott guided the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals in 2002, losing to the Lakers, and 2003, losing to the San Antonio Spurs. He was selected as the NBA’s coach of the year for the 2007-2008 season when he was with the New
Orleans Hornets.

Scott’s most recent coaching position was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who he coached from 2010-13.

Scott becomes the Lakers’ 25th coach and 21st since their move to Los Angeles. He is the seventh former Laker player to become the team’s coach.

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