As head coach of the Hornets for the last three seasons, Byron Scott has led the team through a complete restructuring, an unprecedented two-year run playing for two cities due to a horrific natural disaster and a staggering rash of injuries. In fighting through those obstacles, he has instilled the team with the tenacity and mental toughness that helped him reach eight NBA Finals (and win three NBA titles) as a player and coach. Scott’s own standard of excellence has now been adopted by his Hornets as he continues to build them into one of the league’s up-and-coming teams.
Scott’s first season as head coach saw the team post an 18-64 mark after the decision was made to restructure the team and look toward the future. Despite their record, the Hornets forged a reputation as one of the league’s scrappiest teams and won over fans with their hard-nosed and entertaining style of play. Scott’s second season on the bench was perhaps his most satisfying as a head coach. Just prior to the start of training camp, the team was displaced from its New Orleans home by Hurricane Katrina and landed in Oklahoma City. He would lead the team from the sidelines in four different home arenas and still manage to guide them to a 38-44 record. That 20-game turnaround was the best in the NBA that season, leading to Scott finishing fifth in NBA Coach of the Year balloting. 2006-07 began with high expectations and huge promise, but a slew of injuries hampered the Hornets’ drive for a playoff spot. The team lost 196 player games due to injury but still managed to stay in contention for the postseason until the final week of the regular season.
Scott came to the Hornets after three-and-a-half seasons in New Jersey, during which time he compiled a 149-139 (.517) record and took the Nets from the bottom of the Eastern Conference (only three teams were worse the season before he arrived) to one of the NBA’s elite teams.
He posted a 26-56 mark in his first year with the Nets (2000-01), but that record was not a sign of the times to come. Scott guided the Nets to a 52-30 record and a trip to the NBA Finals in the 2001-02 season, just his second as a head coach at any level. The 52 wins were a Nets franchise record and represented the sixth-best turnaround (26 games) in NBA history. The team enjoyed several other franchise firsts, including the Atlantic Division title, the best record in the Eastern Conference and a 50-win season. The Nets’ team success translated into individual honors for Scott, as he was named head coach of the Eastern Conference All-Star Team during the 2002 All-Star Game in Philadelphia. As good as the Nets were in the regular season, their march through the playoffs was even more impressive. Scott led the team to victories over the Pacers, Hornets and Celtics before they fell to the L.A. Lakers in the Finals.
Under Scott’s leadership, the Nets finished 49-33 and returned to the Finals in 2002-03. The team captured its second consecutive Atlantic Division crown and once again rolled through the playoffs, defeating the Bucks in six games in the first round and sweeping the Celtics and Pistons in the Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals, respectively. After losing the first two games of their Finals matchup with the Spurs, Scott led the Nets back with two consecutive wins to tie the series before they eventually lost in six games.
Prior to joining the Nets, Scott spent two seasons (1998-99 and 1999-00) as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings. During his two years in Sacramento, the team posted their first back-to-back winning seasons (27-23 and 44-38) in 20 years. Scott’s responsibilities with the Kings included reviewing offensive game plans, advance scouting and individual skill work with perimeter players.
Scott began his coaching career after 14 years as a player in the NBA with Los Angeles (1983-93, 1996-97), Indiana (1993-95) and Vancouver (1995-96). Scott, who holds career averages of 14.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists, won three NBA championships (1985, 1987, 1988) as a key member of the Lakers’ “Showtime” era. He experienced only two losing seasons as a player and his teams qualified for the playoffs in 13 of his 14 seasons. His 183 career playoff games ranks seventh all-time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Scottie Pippen, Danny Ainge, Magic Johnson, Robert Parish and Karl Malone. His best season came during the Lakers’ 1988 championship run, when he averaged 21.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists. After spending his 14th and final NBA season with the Lakers, Scott played one season in Greece for Pananthinaikos, where he led the team to the championship.
Scott entered the NBA as the fourth overall selection in the 1983 NBA Draft by the San Diego Clippers before his rights were traded to the Lakers. He played collegiately at Arizona State, where he finished his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,752 points. Scott was named First Team All-Pac 10 as a senior after averaging 21.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
The native of Inglewood, Calif., has an equally impressive record off the court. His non-profit organization, The Byron Scott Children’s Fund, has raised more than $6 million over the past decade, with the proceeds going to various children’s charities. Scott continued to broaden his résumé during the 2003-04 season when he served as a studio analyst for ABC’s NBA telecasts.
Scott and his wife, Anita, have three children, Thomas, LonDen and DaRon.