Byron Scott, the former coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, revealed Wednesday that he didn’t “hand the keys to the car” to D’Angelo Russell because he felt the rookie point guard wasn’t ready for the responsibility.
Scott joined NBA legend Tracy McGrady on Wednesday’s broadcast of ESPN’s The Jump. McGrady asked Scott to respond to critics who feel that the former showtime Laker is incapable of coaching a team loaded with youngsters. As expected, Scott fired back at those critics.
“I think it’s crazy (the notion that I can’t coach rookies). You look back on my career. I had Chris Paul when he was a rookie (at New Orleans in 2005). I gave him the keys to the car and he ran the show and did an unbelievable job. Today, he’s a perennial all-star and one of the best point guards to ever play the game.
Scott continued: “After we drafted Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 pick in Cleveland, I immediately gave him the keys to the car. To me, I feel if you’re ready, I am going to give it to you. If you’re not, I am going to make you earn it. It’s pretty much that simple.”
Byron Scott: D’Lo not in CP3’s league
When asked to compare Russell to Paul, Scott said: “Not the same guys. At 19, Chris Paul came into the league and he was ready – both physically and mentally.” Scott and Russell, the temperamental rookie, were at loggerheads for the better part of the Lakers’ disastrous season. There were times when Scott benched Russell in late game situations for “trying to take over the game”.
Scott did a remarkable job coaching Paul and Irving during their rookie seasons. In fact, both those point guards praised the coach after winning the Rookie of the Year honors in 2005 and 2011 respectively. Is Scott to blame for Russell’s up-and-down season which attracted more detractors than supporters?
Didn’t expect to be fired
Scott, who had two years left on his contract, expressed shock that he was fired prematurely. “I was preparing and looking forward to next year. And then boom, that happened, and I said, ‘Wow.’ That kind of surprised me, shocked me a little bit, and then went home, thought about it for a few hours, woke up Monday morning, and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to go to the gym to get a workout in and start thinking about life after coaching.'” (Watch Video Above)
Though Byron Scott is no longer the Lakers coach, the former guard supported the team’s decision to replace him with young Luke Walton. “I love Luke Walton. I think Luke’s a great guy. I had a chance to coach Luke in Cleveland, and I think Luke will be a very good coach in this league.”