On another sun-splashed day at the Cleveland Clinic Courts, the Cavaliers introduced the 18th coach in franchise history – Byron Scott.
For the past five years, the Cavaliers – as well as the media which covers them – have gotten used to Mike Brown’s easy-going style and toothy grin. Byron Scott will bring his trademark folded-armed glower and the intensity of a man who’s battled through the NBA wars.
And when Scott faces LeBron on Saturday morning, as the Cavaliers official head coach, that experience is what he’ll illustrate.
“It just goes back to my experiences, my leadership qualities and my communication skills with my players – those three things,” said Scott. “And obviously I’ve won some Championships and been there as a coach. And I’d tell (James) that I think this is the right time. I think I’m the right coach and I think this team has the ability right now to … get there and get a Championship.”
Over the course of his 27 years in professional basketball, Scott has tasted winning in almost every form possible. He even won an international championship – in Greece – just to cover all the bases.
Selected No. 4 overall by the Clippers out of Arizona State in 1983, he was traded to Los Angeles for Norm Nixon and went on to play with one of the greatest teams in recent NBA history – the "Showtime" Lakers of the mid-to-late-80s – alongside two of the game’s all-time greats, so iconic that they go by just a single name: Kareem and Magic.
Scott was no passenger during those great Lakers runs in which they won titles in 1985, ’87 and ’88. During their first Championship run, Scott led the LakeShow in three-point shooting. When they won ring No. 3, he led them in scoring at 21.7 ppg.
In 14 seasons as a player, he reached the playoffs in 13 of them.
Those Showtime Lakers obviously influenced the style Scott will try to implement on both ends of the floor. Pat Riley instilled his defensive tenets on him, and he still wants to run components of the Princeton offense, but “the emphasis on the offensive end will try to really get up and down the floor.”
Throughout his career, Scott has played alongside and coached three generations of NBA superstars – from the aforementioned duo to Kobe Bryant to Jason Kidd to Chris Paul.
After two years under Rick Adelman in Sacramento, Scott accepted his first head coaching position with the New Jersey Nets.
After a difficult first season in the Meadowlands, Scott doubled the Nets’ win total – from 26 in 2001-02 to 56 the next year. That same year, the Nets tore through the Eastern Conference to reach the NBA Finals, where they were swept by Scott’s former club.
The next year, Scott’s Nets returned to the NBA Finals – sweeping the Celtics and Pistons to get there. But as they had in the previous season, New Jersey got in the way of another budding dynasty – losing to the Spurs in six.
After being let go 42 games into his fourth season in the Garden State, Scott adopted another reclamation project in New Orleans in 2004-05.
During the early years of rebuilding the Hornets, the team was forced to play their home games at as many as four different arenas in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
But once again, Scott managed to take a team from worst to first – lifting the 18-win Hornets to the top of the Southwest Division and back to the postseason. That same season – 2007-08 – Scott was named Coach of the Year.
The next year, the married, father of three led the Hornets back to the postseason, but was let go just nine games into the 2009-10 season.
Whether he's starting from scratch, like he did with New Jersey and New Orleans, or whether he's poised to push Cleveland over the top, Scott is back in action, in place with a team that could give him his fourth Ring – and the Cavaliers’ franchise its first.
“I’m looking forward to bringing that Championship to Cleveland,” said Scott. “Obviously, one of my goals as a coach is to win a Championship as well. (And I should say ‘Championships – more than one). So that’s still one of the objectives I still have as a head coach in this league and I think this team and this organization gives me the best chance.”