After a disappointing season, the Los Angeles Lakers entered the off-season with plenty of question marks. One of those was who was going to coach the team after Mike D’Antoni resigned.
The Lakers front office took their time before finally bringing in former Laker Byron Scott to become the team’s next head coach.
According to a Q & A with Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudell, Scott remembered his time with a young Bryant and how the high schooler had his sights on becoming one of the all-time greats:
He and I just talked a lot. I got to know him so well, that I thought he was the most mature 18-year-old I’d seen in my life. He had an idea of what he wanted to be and accomplish at 18, and he was able to do that. I remember sitting in the front row at the Forum, we’d just had practice, and I’m talking to him and I said: ‘Showboat, what do you want to do in this league.’ He said, ‘B I want to be the best player in the NBA.’ I could see that he was dead serious. And I told him, ‘As hard as you work, you will be.’ And for a long time, he was the best.
Following brief stints with the Indiana Pacers and Vancouver Grizzlies, Scott returned to the Lakers where he mentored Kobe Bryant during his rookie season. While stuck behind Eddie Jones on the depth chart, Bryant only averaged 15.5 minutes a game as a rookie, but still managed to show flashes of his eventual dominance by scoring an average of 7.6 in his limited time.
With ESPN’s forecasts pegging the team as the West’s 12th best as well as the team facing the biggest turmoil, the upcoming season looks to be a challenging one for Scott, Bryant, and the rest of the Lakers. The team will be looking to prove the doubters wrong and get back to winning basketball games.
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