Media day is only a few days away. The long and over drawn off season his almost over, and it’s time to get down to business. While it was another day of optional practice for the young core, D’Angelo Russell took some time to discuss the changes from last season to this upcoming season, with Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times (warning to some Laker fans this may be upsetting).
Byron, Kobe, and Russell’s development or lack thereof.
We can’t sugar coat this folks, 2015-2016 was worst year in Laker history. From absolutely poor play, to Kobe’s final games, to a cell phone fiasco, well technically 2. Most of all, it was tough because our coach was statistically and literally the worst. From what it sounds like, the fears that most fans had throughout the year were in fact true. Kobe’s retirement was more important than the development of the future of the team. Russell discussed this with Tania, and he held nothing back.
“Last off-season was Looney Tunes, Wasn’t real. I didn’t get nothing out of it.”
That doesn’t sound too encouraging. It gets worse and suddenly it got real dark in here.
“The coaching staff, the whole atmosphere that this coaching staff brings is different. I’m not saying better, I’m not downgrading the last coaching staff. I’m just saying the atmosphere they bring every day is a winning mentality.”
For Russell, it was a struggle to get any actual coaching. Once Kobe announced that he was going to retire, the Laker coaching staff made it all about Kobe.
“They expected so much from so many people, and then Kobe had his farewell tour, and it was just like, we put everything we had, expectations for everybody else, on hold. We gotta get through Kobe’s farewell tour and then we can continue with our process. So we kind of accepted that.”
Russell went on to say that he just took a back seat to the Kobe tour. This isn’t a shot at Kobe as we can all agree he deserved the farewell. It is, however a shot at the coaching staff for failing to balance the situation as a whole.
Silver lining in the form of a need off season
From what it sounded like, most of the Lakers, especially Russell, just wanted the season to be over. Once the season ended, Russell was instantly ready to move on from it. It’s been well documented via social media that there really hasn’t been a day that he hasn’t been in the gym working on his game. On June 21st Russell was able to meet his new coach after Luke Walton’s press conference ended.
“I was excited to see him, I heard so many great things about him.”
Russell has come to learn that the man has lived up to those words. Luke has worked very closely with his new guard, guiding him through doing the right thing, and calling him out directly when he does something wrong. That’s a stark contrast from Byron Scott’s style of pointing out his mistakes, only to bench him when he tries to correct them.
The more I read, the more I hear it reinstates the fact that Byron was just a bad coach. For Byron fans, it may have just been a season of Kobe. Overall, Byron had one job to do and that was to develop the young players. Sure, this hard noised coaching may have thickened their skins. Overall on the basketball side, the most important side, it seems we were all lucky that Byron didn’t ruin the kid. For the entire interview with Tania, here is the link. Also, be sure and follow her @taniaganguli she will be covering the Lakers for the next season and beyond.
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