During his two-year tenure at the helm of the Los Angeles Lakers, head coach Byron Scott became known for his old-school mentality. His training camps were infamous for their Spartan-like drills and he often struggled to connect with the team’s younger players. In particular, his relationship with second overall pick D’Angelo Russell was often strained, which put him at odds with a Lakers fan base eager to see a new star develop while Kobe Bryant was on his farewell tour.
Scott was relieved of his duties at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 NBA season and the Lakers hired Luke Walton to replace him, who became the youngest head coach in the league.
In a recent interview with Mark Medina of the Southern California News Group, Scott continued to dig at Russell, suggesting that the young guard doesn’t have a good work ethic or appreciation for his spot in the NBA:
“I don’t know if his work ethic has gotten any better. Some of the people I’ve talked to in the organization said that it hasn’t,” Scott said of Russell. “I just wish him all the best. The maturity level will catch up to him sooner or later when he realizes it’s an honor and a privilege to be in the NBA and be in the position that he’s in. He has to take full advantage of it.”
Scott hails from an era of tough love coaches, who would use criticism to motivate players. It’s debatable whether the tactic works with modern players, but clearly, Scott has one last constructive criticism here. It was no secret, but he isn’t Russell’s biggest fan.
Of course, while Scott may have some deep-rooted bias against Russell, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is wrong. It’s entirely possible that Russell does indeed need to improve his work ethic, but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. If Russell steps up next season and performs up to his potential then his play on the floor will speak louder than any words ever could.