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(Did we ever figure out how many crates Karl’s book sold?)
The Lakers coach from 2014-16, fired in advance of two team option years in favor of Luke Walton last spring, spoke his piece with the Orange County Register’s Mark Medina. The former Laker playing legend relayed the frustration that set in when what appeared to be a four-year plan for him as Lakers coach was cut short after two tumultuous rebuilding years.
Scott and his approach to guiding his young team acted as a major part of that tumult, and he’s finally joined the rest of us in pinning the Lakers as leaving him in place as a scapegoat while they waited out Kobe Bryant’s farewell turn in 2015-16.
“Basically,” Scott told Medina, “you just wanted me there to help you guys get through the next two years, so Kobe doesn’t go crazy on you guys.”
Pretty much. Kobe went crazy anyway, shooting without reflex during what was mostly an embarrassing final turn for both player and franchise. Still, both Scott and the Lakers knew Bryant (who played with Scott during Kobe’s rookie year in 1996-97) would never call out his former mentor.
Scott went on to say that he “felt deceived, lied to and betrayed” by former Laker basketball president Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak, who were themselves let go during a basketball coup so badly needed the Lakers actually let Magic Johnson run the show.
“I don’t have a problem with young guys growing, understanding and developing in that (starting) role, but I do have a problem when they don’t cherish it, when they don’t hold it to a higher standard, when they don’t come ready to work.”
Scott, as you’d expect, was asked to pile on when discussing the future of 2015 Lakers lottery pick D’Angelo Russell, a hybrid guard whose game hasn’t taken off either under Bryant’s and Scott’s tutelage, or with Walton running the show:
“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.”
Compare that line of thinking with what Scott said of fellow Laker youngster Julius Randle – “He is a terrific young man and is really mature for his age. I think he wants to be great” – and one can understand the frustration.
Russell barely moved in perceptible steps under Scott and with Kobe around, and if his career finishes with him performing at about the same rate, it’s fair to blame his initial NBA influences as much as it would be to blame his own shortcomings.
As Scott sees them, at least. Magic Johnson, for one, did not include Russell among his untouchables in a meeting with the radio guys on Thursday:
That leaves Russell, Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. a little out in the cold, but as Scott reminds us, “Earvin is a guy who isn’t going to take a bunch of crap.”
And, as Scott also told the OCR, his upcoming book “is not one of those books that is a feel-great book.” For anyone to expect anything else would be criminal.
“Slam Dunk Success: Leading from Every Position on Life’s Court,” is available now.
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