Byron Scott was introduced this week 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. 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’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.”
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.”
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. 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.