• dEDGE Post Scriptum • PART I of III
The elevation “B” got on his jump-shot was simply mind-boggling. It was as if he was shooting downward from far above in the heavens, raining down buckets in effortless fashion. His right forearm was always perfectly perpendicular to his bicep, raising the ball aloft in a fluid, piston-like fashion. The ball release rotated precisely in orbit as it fluttered off of his fingertips with the end result being a distinct crackle of the nets. Time after time, defenses would double-down on the Lakers’ dominant post players and the Showtime bigs would simply kick the ball out to their young, sharpshooter. Scott would drive to the basket just as ferociously, slamming down monstrous dunks over 7-footers or anyone else stupid enough to get in his way. Whereas Showtime was all about Magic, Kareem and Big Game James, the Lakers did not defeat the Boston Celtics until an Inglewood native blossomed into the perennial two-guard on a roster teeming of megastars.
Byron Scott was born to wear purple and gold. The Morningside High School star used to sneak into the Fabulous Forum to watch his hometown Lakers take the floor. He loved routing for Jerry West, Gail Goodrich and Wilt Chamberlain, but Scott’s favorite player was a future teammate-to-be, Bob McAdoo. He was in awe that a 6′-11″ post player could shoot the ball better than most guards. Scott was an all-around athlete who excelled in everything he attempted. His strong arm easily propelled a football halfway down the field. That same skill-set made him a formidable pitcher on the mound. But his love was on the asphalt courts that surrounded his City of Angels. The playground legend’s running mates were none other than Darryl Strawberry and Eric Davis, both future all-stars in MLB. The trio would command court all day, toss around the pigskin, then propel home runs over the chain-linked fences until the floodlights eventually flickered off. But as baseball became more and more of a reality for his friends, Scott knew his athletic talents were destined for the hardwood.
Scott yearned to stay local and attend UCLA, but the coach, Gary Cunningham abruptly resigned, leaving the Bruins coach-less and Scott looking for alternatives. By the time Larry Brown was hired in Westwood, Scott had already decided to attend Arizona State University. It proved to be a very good fit for him. He knew going in that the starting two-guard position was his for the taking. Scott formed a deadly trio with future NBA first-rounders, Lafayette “Fats” Lever and Alton Lister. His desire and talent matched that of his two older teammates, and soon Scott was thinking that he too, could someday compete in the NBA as well. After three successful seasons at ASU, Scott left school early as the Sun Devil’s all-time leading scorer. He applied for the 1983 NBA Draft and was selected 4th overall by the San Diego Clippers. Scott was happy that he was able to remain in Southern California, close to family and friends, but was simply ecstatic when he learned that he, along with center Swen Nater, were traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Norm Nixon, Eddie Jordan and draft picks.
• dEDGE Post Scriptum •
Seriously, no one really had high expectations for this injury plagued, one-year contract, squad of castaways. Most would also say they’re glad D12 is gone, but the true fact of the matter is, we really didn’t have a choice. The cards we’re playing were dealt a long time ago. And this streak of incredibly bad luck doesn’t appear to have an end anytime soon. We keep busting in our elusive quest for the perfect hand, while the house continues to rake in our hard-earned emotional investments. Meanwhile, a devoted fan-base fades deeper and deeper into an inescapable abyss of despair and doom. We reassure ourselves, sooner or later the tide will turn in our favor. But the injuries continue to mount and the losses keep coming. What has happened to our Lakers?
Karma’s a bitch, or as the Zen Master might deadpan, without me, you’ll never prosper. Hear that, Jim Buss? What was once a proud and multi-faceted diamond has deteriorated into dust before our very eyes. Expectations of playing in June have been replaced by “promising” losses. A post-season run will soon be a post-mortem autopsy. Anyone seen a Superstar lately? How about a perennial All-Star? Staples Center now has two Sterling-esque owners trying to ruin things. Laker fans would gladly accept mediocrity at this point, rather than the slop we see on a nightly basis. 2nd Round exits would be a resounding success for this rudderless franchise currently stuck on nostalgia and warm, fuzzy feelings.
The glimpses we see of Phil Jackson only remind us of what should have been. The celebratory championship champagne stings our eyes with tears of pain instead of jubilation. The greatness that momentarily fills our screens quickly evaporates into a indecipherable Pringle’s mumble. Gary Vitti remains our sole connection to better times. It’s ironic how he is connected to both good and bad, glory and pain, winning and losing. As Pat Riley used to say, “it’s either winning or misery.” Those words have never rung truer. Magic Johnson is now Lakers public enemy #1 for spitting out venomous truths and hard-to-swallow facts. Are we too blinded by the bright lights that chased Dwight Howard out of town not to see all that is wrong?
A stumble along the way can be forgiven. An injury can be patched and mended. An error in judgment can be righted and fixed. But how do you restore the indelible brand and undying faith that took years to build and nurture? How can you talk about tradition and glory to a squad composed of unfulfilled potential and long-shots? Tell me precisely Mr. Buss, how do you plan to win again? How could this franchise enjoy so much championship success when it appeared that it’s benevolent owner wasn’t all that involved? How has the untimely death of Dr. Jerry Buss morphed into the near death of the NBA’s most successful franchise?
We’ve all been exposed to a person who micro-manages everyone. He’s the individual that gets so caught up in the minutia and details of how you should perform your job, that you can no longer perform your job. Dr. Jerry had his own Jerry plus a supporting cast that stretched from Bill Sharman to Bill Bertka and everyone else in between. He surrounded himself with the game’s best and brightest minds. Son Jimmy has a former bartender to lean on for advice. The shots being called neither make sense or provide much hope for a resurgence in the foreseeable future.
Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and a handful of college hopefuls are our inspiration for next season and beyond. Chris Kaman, Jordan Hill, Kendall Marshall, and Robert Sacre are our current dose of reality. Will Kobe ever be the Black Mamba again? Will Nash return to Nashty or retreat into retirement? Is Pau finally on his last legs even though he survived another trade deadline? Can Mike D’Antoni ever amount to anything more than the guy that was chosen over Phil Jackson? Tell me precisely Mr. Buss, how will the Lakers win again? Hope runs eternal but our patience does not.