Eighties babies let’s take it back. Back to when Gordon Gekko ruled Wall Street and Will Smith was the freshest prince in Bel-Air. Back when the only big three belonged to the high and rising, and De La Soul hit ‘The Magic Number’. Back when the tricks of Earvin Johnson’s trade redefined basketball and gave it a new, world-wide audience. Back when Showtime was Hollywood’s main attraction, started by Magic and ended by Los Angeles Laker legend Byron Scott.
Last summer Byron Scott was loosely linked with the Lakers head coaching job vacated by legend Phil Jackson, and now taken up by former Cleveland Cavalier leader Mike Brown. Scott’s Cleveland coach nowadays, and as head coach he hopes to blend this years top draft pick Kyle Irving with the rest of the Ohio squad into a winner. Now he may not be running things for the Lake Show, but he’ll always remain Laker family through and through. From the above the rim, high-top fade playing days, to whenever his crouched-down to the hardwood coaching style visits Staples Center. Whether wowing Jack Nicholson with his dunks, or sharing laughs with him courtside, this great Scott will always be painted with purple and gold. A brush above the rest, when Byron’s fast-paced energy game helped put the ‘show’ in Showtime he soon filled the sneakers of the departed, nice Norm Nixon, despite some unwelcome, early difficulty.
In the end, it didn’t take too long for this incredible Inglewood native to feel right at home in the fabulous Forum, not far from where he grew up. This local hero became a California king during his Los Angeles times. From Morningside High to Arizona State, Scott was always molded to be great. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard, selected fourth overall, was never meant for the Clippers, or their former home of San Diego. So as Byron changed hands and draft caps from the Clippers to the Lakers he embarked on a dominant decade with L.A’s first team before closing out his career in Indiana, Canada and Greece. On his way to starting a successful 10-year plus career on the bench with those New Jersey and New Orleans cities, and now the Cavs out in Cleveland.
His career amounted to more then just his impressive numbers of 14.1 points, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steal per game. How’s three gold championship rings for your inspiration? Now Byron, who hit middle-age this year, may not make the NBA’s top 50 list, but he’d sure round out the first century list of all-time players. Keeping it 100, Scott gave his utmost percentage every game. His energy plays and showmanship helped make Los Angeles basketball the most entertaining brand. No wonder every Hollywood star from Nicholson to movie stuntmen knew what the real show in town was. Going on and on, Scott’s dynamo play was the perfect picture for L.A. Just think of Shannon Brown today. Behind the stars, but the most screen-worthy with his highlight plays.
From the dunks to the dimes, the big smiles to the laughs, Byron formed the perfect perimeter and formidable friendship trio with Magic and defensive specialist Michael Cooper. Coop’s blocks would give L.A. possession and then Magic would start the Showtime fast break that Scott usually finished. Strong. Simply put, Byron was one of the most refreshing players the league had seen, and this underrated legend was also one of its first most entertaining and exciting – after Julius, but before Blake, Vince, Kobe or even Michael. Byron made the dunk and energy plays his own, warming up his team before microwaves really hit the market and from Vinnie Johnson and his ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons to the Larry Bird led Boston Celtics, the friendly Scottie had the power to face all of his foes.
It was criminal that Byron was never selected to an All-Star team, because even on the greatest Laker team of all-time, this cult favorite shone next to all the stars. Sure the Lakers had Magic, Coop, the wonderful James Worthy and the all-time leading scorer and legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but Scott was a big part of the development of the Showtime’s dynasty too. The 1980’s Lakers would have been nothing without Magic’s passes, Cooper’s ‘D’, Worthy’s ‘Big Game’ or cap’s Sky-Hook to match, but they’d wouldn’t have been much without Scott either. Byron even returned to L.A. as a veteran in the 1996-97 season, backing up and mentoring Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the other Laker role legends like any great teammate would.
Today Byron has gone from one of the association’s most underrated players to one of it’s leading coaches. From reaching the Finals twice with Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets (to only be beaten by his old-friends the Lakers once), to putting the buzz in the Hornets in New Orleans and Oklahoma. Last year Byron received the hardest coaching job in history, taking on the LeBron-less Cleveland Cavaliers, and he was also a front-runner for this years hardest job, almost taking his talents back to Los Angeles to calm down the Lakers loss of Zen. Still, however the man Byron Scott succeeded in Cleveland now has Staples marked on his envelopes. Mike Brown is the right man for the Lakers new coaching gig and as Scott looks to take the Cavs from the basement to the spotlights he’s used to, one way or another this L.A. legend will always be linked to the Lakers.