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Jamaal Wilkes

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Image Credit: Juan Ocampo

It may have been months in the making but the Lakers officially introduced Byron Scott as its new head coach at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo on Tuesday.

“The one thing I will say is that this has been a dream of mine for so long,” said Scott, who enjoyed 11 seasons with the purple and gold. “It’s a dream come true to be here sitting and talking to you guys today and be introduced as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.”

Since Mike D’Antoni’s resignation in April, the discussion as to who would be the next coach always circled back to Scott, who served as an analyst on Time Warner Cable SportsNet this past year.

After uncertainty the past three years with D’Antoni and Mike Brown, the hiring of Scott looks to bring stability to a franchise that desperately needs it. While stability is needed, the expectations remain the same, something that Scott made sure to acknowledge in his opening statements.

“This organization is all about championships. Period. We don’t look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships,” said Scott. “We look at championships.”

The press conference got off to a memorable start as Scott’s former teammates, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Jamaal Wilkes came to support their friend.

“This is a great day for all former Lakers as well as Laker fans all over the world,” said Magic. “We’re just excited for what Byron will bring to the table and get back to playing Laker basketball… Again, congratulations to the Laker organization. You chose the right guy.”

One of the other selling points other than Scott’s history with the franchise is that of his relationship with Kobe Bryant, who had issues with his two previous head coaches.

“Great relationship. I mean we get a long extremely well. We talk a lot. We text each other a lot during the season and obviously during the off-season,” said Scott, who was Kobe’s mentor during his rookie season in 1996. “I’m looking forward to coaching Kobe. I know his drive, and I know his will and determination. I think we’re on the same page as far as how we think about this game and how it should be played.”

While this is Scott’s ‘dream job’, many do not consider the roster as currently constructed a playoff team, but the new head coach is happy with his upcoming collection of players.

“I just was looking at all the moves that Jim [Buss] and Mitch [Kupchak] were making. When we talked, they would ask me my opinion, and I would give it to them. And like I said, I think they did a great job of putting this roster together,” said Scott.

“I’m excited to work with these guys on the floor too, and I think you’re going to have a few of these guys on this roster that have a chip on their shoulder, which to me is a very good thing, and you have a lot of people real down on us right now, and I think that’s something that can drive us going through the season.”

As the Lakers now move forward, trying to establish an identity for the years to come, it will be a challenge for Scott but for someone that understands expectations of the franchise and its fans; he is definitely the right choice at the moment for this team.  But what can the fans expect out the Lakers led by Scott?

“Play hard every single night, and we’ll come ready to defend.”

And after last season’s 27-55 performance, even that small promise from Scott is the step in the right direction.

Getty Images

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of February 16-22, over their 66-year history.

February 16, 1972

Wilt Chamberlain scored his 30,000th point in a 110-109 loss to the Phoenix Suns. He became the first NBA player in history to reach this plateau. Chamberlain finished his playing career in 1973 as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 31,419 points. Chamberlain has since been passed on the all-time scoring list and currently sits in fifth place.

February 16, 1992

Magic Johnson’s number 32 was retired during the halftime ceremony of a Lakers-Celtics game at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. Johnson joined Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in Lakers’ history at the time to have their jerseys retired. Johnson and the other greats have since been joined by James Worthy, Gail Goodrich, Jamaal Wilkes, and Shaquille O’Neal.

Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

February 17, 2004

Kobe Bryant scored a tie-breaking layup with 31.8 seconds left in regulation to lift the Lakers over the Portland Trailblazers 89-86 in Los Angeles. Bryant finished with a game-high 31 points, including his team’s last five. He also added eight rebounds and 10 assists, just falling short of a triple-double. Shaquille O’Neal added 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers in the win.

February 22, 2002

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning jump shot over George Lynch, as the Lakers defeated the Charlotte Hornets 96-94 in North Carolina. Bryant finished the game with 21 points and nine rebounds, while Shaquille O’Neal led Los Angeles with 31 points.

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Image Credit: Alex Lambeth | LakerNation
Image Credit: Alex Lambeth | LakerNation
Image Credit: Alex Lambeth | LakerNation

January 16th, 2013 – The 9th Annual Lakers All-Access event at STAPLES Center was a great opportunity for fans to interact with their favorite team. The night included a shoot around on the Lakers’ court, a photo opportunity with the championship trophies and Lakers girls, as well as a silent auction for autographed memorabilia.

The event concluded with two separate panels discussions, both moderated by Voice-of-the-Lakers Bill Macdonald. The first panel consisted of Laker Legends: General Manager Mitch Kupchak, Robert Horry, James Worthy and Jamaal Wilkes. The second panel consisted of present Lakers: head coach Mike D’Antoni and players Antawn Jamison and Steve Blake. The following is a brief recap of the important quotes from the panel discussions:

Robert Horry:

When Kobe’s on the weak side, he needs to start paying attention to where the ball is and not be flying around thinking he’s just some ‘stealth bomber’ and he can get steals all the time.

- Wants to see Pau Gasol continue coming off the bench for the rest of the season; says Gasol should watch tape of Manu Ginobli and James Harden to understand how to be an effective sixth man.

- Frustrates both him and his Time Warner Cable Sports Net co-host, James Worthy, to see a team with so much talent, struggle so much early on.

- Would like to see the NBA take out the zone defense: “If you can’t play man-to-man defense, then go home.”

James Worthy:

If you ever tried to block Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s hook shot, you would probably need facial reconstruction surgery when you were done from his elbows.

- Enjoys receiving feedback on Twitter from fans; helps shape direction on TWCSN telecasts.

- Wants to see Kobe Bryant get cleaner shots and not force shots as much on offense when he as such great teammates around him. Mentioned both Blake and Steve Nash as great shooters.

- Would like to see the NBA go back to just two referees; game was more fun and more up-tempo because of less calls, and players could get away with more off the ball.

- Wants to see consistency from game-to-game with Gasol being implemented back into the lineup.

Jamaal Wilkes:

If the Lakers make the playoffs, I wouldn’t want to be the team that has to play them.

- Shared the fact that he learned how to shoot in such a unique way at about 11 or 12 years old: “No one wanted to mess with it when I got to high school.”

- When Wilkes arrived at UCLA, coach John Wooden said that as long as it had good backspin, rolled off his fingertips and went in the basket, then there was nothing that needed to be changed.

- The NBA used to be more physical, but that physicality was accepted more back then, which is the main difference in the league, past and present.

- Wouldn’t count out the Lakers. They’re not panicking and seems like they’re figuring more things out now, called them “shell-shocked” initially.

Mitch Kupchak:

The Western Conference is a much tougher conference these days. We have to win 3 out of every 4 games going forward, not 2 out of every 4, and be playing well come April.

- Kupchak preached patience; thinks this season would be a much different story without the multitude of injuries the Lakers have suffered so far.

- If he had to pick one player to start a franchise with, besides Michael Jordan, it would be Kareem. Cited “The Captain’s” great skill for a big man as well as his longevity of spending 20 years in the NBA.

- One rule that the NBA has discussed implementing is the European goal-tending rule; Kupchak doesn’t like the rule personally.

Mike D’Antoni:

The fans are better here in Los Angeles than they were in New York. In New York, they’re with you until the 3rd quarter then they’re against you.

- On Steve Blake: great, smart basketball player and he’s tough as nails. Excited to coach him because he believes Blake will pick up the system quickly.

- His experience playing in Italy was wonderful; traveled everywhere with his team and it made him into a different person.

- Doesn’t know whom he’s talking to sometimes between Ron Artest and Metta World Peace; says that he tends to switch between identities often.

- Still thinks it’s early in the season, hopes they’ve turned it around now. Still have steps to go, but likes where the energy and effort are on a nightly basis.

- Defensively they’ve found a couple things that work well and they’ll run with them. Energy is not an issue as the players bring it every night.

- Kind of hit rock bottom but have learned how to get through the rough parts and turn them into positives. Did that vs. Milwaukee and Cleveland.

- Players must have great chemistry and trust each other on the court. Guys must understand their role as well, which is simply to play hard, shoot when you’re open and then run back down the floor.

- Hates when players complain about touches or about their role on the team; the “ball finds energy” and everyone has the same role on the team (to play as hard as you can and shoot when you’re in the game).

Antawn Jamison:

If I had to change my name, [like World Peace did], I would probably change it to Denzel. I looked like a young Denzel Washington back in the day.

- Loves playing in LA and has had “an unbelievable experience here.” Especially likes seeing all the Lakers fans on the road.

- Felt like he deserved to be on a historic franchise such as the Lakers after 14 years in the league. Chose the Lakers because they “value championships over everything else.”

- Determined that Mike D’Antoni and his brother, assistant coach Dan D’Antoni, can’t be related because of their polar opposite personalities; says that it makes for an interesting locker room.

- Spacing and timing are the keys to making everything come together effectively this season: “Look at the personnel, it’s almost impossible to stop us.”

- By doing the things that D’Antoni preaches, it creates more opportunities for everyone. Trusting both the system and each other has opened the players’ eyes to just how good they can be collectively.

Steve Blake:

I love playing in LA and hopefully I’ll continue to have success here. I hope to be Laker for a long time.

Injury update: Blake will receive a cortisone shot on Sunday to treat his recent groin issue. Blake has recovered from the abdominal surgery but must take care of his groin trouble before returning to the court.

- Likes seeing his teammates “buy-in” to D’Antoni’s system and trust each other on both ends of the floor; seems like they’re playing more “playoff-style basketball” of late.

- Nice to see guys stepping up when others go down with injuries. Especially likes seeing his teammates “not taking any possessions off.”

LakerNation: Be sure to be on the lookout for next year’s ‘Annual Lakers All-Access’ event sometime in January 2014. It is definitely a great opportunity for fans to gain a personal, behind-the-scenes look at your Los Angeles Lakers!

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