LOS ANGELES — The touch of irony was there for all to see.
Mike D’Antoni embraced the “Showtime” concept when he took the Los Angeles Lakers coaching job two years ago, saying he would love to employ the fun-and-run style that made them champions five times in the 1980s.
But Byron Scott, an actual member of three of those teams, went a different way at his introductory news conference Tuesday.
“We can’t play that way. We don’t have a Magic Johnson,” said the new Lakers coach.
He wasn’t kidding.
Despite the reality check of an aging roster recently filled with two discards from other teams, Tuesday was a feel-good day for the Lakers.
Scott was blunt and to the point but also somehow refreshing, a touch with yesteryear the franchise needed, even if it lasted only a short time.
Not long after his news conference was hijacked by supportive and light-hearted comments from Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes, Scott added a bit of reverence.
“The only thing I regret is that Dr. (Jerry) Buss isn’t here today,” he said. “He’s somebody that showed a lot of love and confidence in me back in the day, and a guy that you could call any time and you could talk to him about anything. Like basketball, money, anything.”
Scott, 53, said he would try to make his former teammates proud, as well as the Buss family.
And he wanted very little to do with pushing the pace on offense, saying he would run a hybrid of schemes, which in the recent past included mostly high screen-and-rolls.
There will also be a reliance on defense, Scott promised.
“The first thing that Magic taught me when I got in this league is that we win championships by defending every single night,” Scott said. “Offense is going to come and go. You’re going to miss shots, you’re going to make shots. But the one thing you control every single night is your effort on the defensive end. So we have to obviously get that back in the plans.”
It’s a noble concept, especially for a team that allowed 109.2 points a game, 29th out of 30 NBA teams, last season.
Scott even threatened those who don’t defend.
“They don’t do it, I’ll take them out of the game,” he said. “The only thing that you can really control with players is their minutes. That gets their attention.”
Barely touching on a team that finished 22 games out of a playoff spot last season, Scott looked ahead to the first day of training camp in the coming months.
He also didn’t want to see smiling faces and locker-room fun after a loss: “It should hurt,” he said.
The coaching search took almost three months — Mike D’Antoni resigned April 30 and Scott officially was hired Monday.
Blake Griffin has fracture in back, will miss FIBA World Cup
It appears the reason Clippers forward Blake Griffin declined last week to participate in Team USA’s basketball training camp is because of a back injury and not because he wanted to rest for the upcoming season, The Los Angeles Times confirmed Monday night.
Griffin has a small fracture in his back that will require rest but not surgery, and that was the reason why he couldn’t make the training camp in Las Vegas that started Monday and won’t be able to play in the FIBA World Cup that starts next month.
The Clippers have said Griffin’s injury is not considered serious.
However, the Clippers were unaware of Griffin suffering his back injury during the playoffs.
Griffin, who played in 80 regular-season games and all in 13 of the Clippers’ playoff games, has been working out in Los Angeles.
The Clippers expect Griffin to make a full recovery and be ready to play when training camp opens in late September.
By wire sources