Writer’s Roundtable: Most Underrated Laker of All-Time
Jabari Davis: Byron Scott
A definite argument could/should be made for Elgin Baylor, as he is one of the more underrated and least acclaimed (due to his Clippers staining) absolute superstars in league history, but I want to take a moment to address one of my childhood favorites: Byron Scott. When folks discuss the Showtime Lakers and the glory days, often times B-Scott #4 goes without mention. Don’t get me wrong, Magic/Kareem/Worthy were certainly the triumvirate of Showtime, but Byron was every bit of a determining factor during the final two title runs of the 80′s.
While growing up in Inglewood, Scott was the pride of Morningside High School, before starring at nearby Arizona State for three years. After being drafted by the San Diego Clippers, he was then traded (for Norm Nixon) to a talented Lakers group that had just come off a disappointing Finals sweep at the hands of the Moses Malone led 76ers (“Fo’ Not-Fo’ Fo”) squad. Even though his Lakers went on to face disappointment in the Finals (4-3 loss to Boston), Scott and the Lakers went on to win three of the next four NBA titles from 1985-88. Scott’s best statistical year (21.7 ppg, 4.1 rebs, 4.1 asts, 1.9 stls) came during the 1987-88 season, which happened to be the second year of the infamous “Back-to-Back” run.
As mentioned, Scott went on to be a 3-time NBA champion, but injuries prevented him from participating in the 1989 attempt to “3-peat” vs. the Pistons. Scott is often criticized for an apparent disappearing act during the 1991 Finals, but one shouldn’t truly be faulted for struggling against perimeter defenders like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen during their collective primes. Not to mention, Scott was nursing a sore shoulder, which eventually held him out of the elimination game (Game 5).
Scott went on to play the next two seasons with the Lakers paired with (Big Game) James Worthy, following Magic Johnson’s untimely retirement just before the 1992 NBA season. After playing a couple years with the Pacers and Grizzlies, Scott returned to the Lakers for his final (1996-97) season in the league, and acted as somewhat of a veteran mentor for a 17/18-year-old kid named Kobe Bryant. You may have heard of him.
Next Page: Elizabeth Benson’s Take