NBA: New Lakers coach Byron Scott eyes fast turnaround
Byron Scott was a key component of the Los Angeles Lakers' Showtime teams, a smooth shooting guard with sizzling competitive fire. He believes his purple-and-gold championship pedigree makes him the ideal coach to return the struggling 16-time champions to NBA contention.
"This organization is all about championships, period," Scott said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. "We don't look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships. We look at [NBA] championships. And we know we have some work ahead of us, but I'm excited. ... I love challenges anyway, so this is going to be fun."
Scott's fellow Lakers greats are already backing that notion. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes surprised Scott before he was formally named the 25th coach in franchise history, standing behind him in a towering show of support.
In fact, Scott hadn't even said a word before Magic took the microphone and praised his longtime backcourt mate.
"We wish we could put the uniform on for you and help you, but we will support you," Johnson said. "Congratulations to the Lakers organization. You chose the right guy."
The Lakers' sparkling history is both the strength at Scott's back and the specter looming over his shoulder.
The Lakers are coming off their worst season in Los Angeles, and their hodgepodge roster is built around soon-to-be-36-year-old Kobe Bryant, who is coming off major injuries as the NBA's highest-paid player. Title contention seems distant to most pragmatic folks, particularly in the tough Western Conference.
But don't tell that to Magic, Kareem or even Scott, who has three championship rings.
"I don't see this as a long process," Scott said. "This is Los Angeles. It's still one of the best organizations in all of sports. Still got a ton of people that would love to play for this organization, and you've got [former Lakers] sitting in the front row that are very adamant about that. They're all advocates for this organization, so I don't think it's going to take long."
Scott and Bryant have stayed close since they played together in Bryant's rookie season. Scott acknowledged Bryant "has to be a little patient," a quality that Kobe has never possessed in any measurable quantity.
Scott floated the idea that Bryant could play point guard for the Lakers on occasion.
The Lakers finally hired a new coach almost three months after Mike D'Antoni's resignation on April 30.
Woman leads union
The National Basketball Players Association has elected Michele Roberts as executive director, making her the first woman to lead a North American pro sports union.
Roberts received 32 of 36 votes in a process that was completed in the early morning hours Tuesday. The Washington trial lawyer defeated tech industry CEO Dean Garfield and Dallas Mavericks CEO Terdema Ussery in the final vote.
The vote capped a long and arduous process to replace Billy Hunter, who was ousted in February of 2013. Roberts was one of the finalists initially offered to the rank-and-file during All-Star weekend in February, but the process was reopened to broaden the search at the urging of some players and agents.
More than 100 players reconvened in Las Vegas this week, with the three finalists making presentations on Monday. In the end, Roberts emerged as the winner.
Mavs keep Johnson
The Dallas Mavericks have signed forward Ivan Johnson after he started all five games for their summer league team. Johnson averaged 7.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in the Las Vegas league. The 6-foot-8 Johnson played last season with Zhejiang Chouzhou in China.
Johnson played 125 games over two seasons with Atlanta ending in 2013. He has career averages of 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds.