Byron Scott hit the right notes in his first press conference as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers: "We'll play hard every single night and we'll come ready to defend--every single night."
On Tuesday, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak introduced Scott as the Lakers' "first choice" despite the process taking nearly two months since Scott first interviewed with the team. Before the three-time champion as a Lakers' player was afforded the microphone as the Lakers' coach, however, the team surprised the audience with three Lakers legends: Jamaal Wilkes, Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The larger-than-life figures and personalities sat in the front row in support of the hire during Scott's press conference. However, before Johnson and the gang took their seats, they took a moment to sing words of encouragement for their former teammate.
"We wish we could put on the uniform for you and help you, but we're here supporting you and will support you throughout," Johnson said to Scott, whom he regularly works out with. When the former band of Laker teammates took a moment to pose for pictures with Scott, Johnson exclaimed, "Boy, Showtime's back, baby!" to capture the excitement and jubilant energy of the reunion.
Then, Scott explained what this moment meant for him: "This has been a dream of mine for so long. It's a dream come true to be sitting here talking to you guys (the media) today and be introduced as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers."
"The passion and love I have for this organization is second to none, and the only thing I regret is that Dr. Buss is not here today," Scott said with his eyes watering up at what the Lakers and Dr. Buss had meant to his life.
Scott admitted that he had to hold back tears while meeting with Jeanie Buss and reminiscing about the Lakers' late owner. The coach who prides himself on toughness, though, was doing his best to control his emotions since his children and grandchildren were present.
With regard to the length of the hiring process, Scott explained that he had always been a patient guy, so he insisted the length of the hiring process did not bother him. However, Scott did take a trip to the Bahamas to get away from fans constantly pestering him about when he would be hired and whether he would be hired. Scott admitted that the fans' questions took a "toll after a little while."
Scott insisted, however, "The waiting really didn't bother me."
The newest Laker coach insisted that the team had a competitive roster, but he had plenty of work to do, especially on one side of the ball.
"The main thing I have to do right away is establish ourselves as a defensive basketball team," Scott said. "First thing Magic taught me when I got into this league is that we win championships by defending every single night. That's the one thing we can control."
Asked how he would hold players accountable, Scott offered a simple explanation of what made him so effective as a disciplinarian coach.
"They don't it, I take them out the game. It's pretty simple," the coach explained his method of accountability. "Again, you get beat on the defensive end--and I've don't this my whole career--guys, they understand, you're not doing what you're supposed to do out there, there are consequences. The only thing you can really control with players is their minutes. That gets their attention."
For a team that was constantly criticized and ridiculed for its inability to play defense a season ago, the message Scott delivered struck a chord. After two years under Mike D'Antoni, who was widely considered a one-dimensional coach, Scott's defensive emphasis was a welcomed return to values the fan base has been yearning for.
As if Scott had not already played the correct notes to reignite fans' passions, Scott also took a jab at the crosstown rivalry brewing with the Los Angeles Clippers.
"I don't think LA has gone to the Clippers yet, anyway. This is still a Laker town--period," Scott emphasized. "We have two teams now, one that has about 17 banners and one that doesn't have any yet, but the rivalry is getting pretty good. But this is still a Laker town."
Above all, the message Scott delivered in his first press conference as Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers was defense. After two seasons of D'Antoni, Scott sang the perfect tune to get fans excited. Unfortunately, the season does not start for another three months.