The Cleveland Cavaliers have named 26-year NBA veteran Byron Scott as the team’s new head coach, Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant announced today from Quicken Loans Arena, in downtown Cleveland.
Coach Scott, 49, played in the NBA for 14-years, primarily with the Los Angeles Lakers where he participated in winning three championships in 11 seasons with the team. After retiring from the NBA, Coach Scott played one season overseas (1997-98), winning a championship for Pananthinaikos in Greece.
He then went on to coach 12 seasons in the NBA, 10 of them as a head coach. After two seasons (1998-2000) in Sacramento as an assistant to Kings’ Head Coach Rick Adelman, Byron was named head coach of the New Jersey Nets where he led the franchise to back-to-back Eastern Conference Championships and back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in his 2nd and 3rd seasons as the Nets’ head coach.
Coach Scott has the 8th highest career playoff game appearances as a player and head coach combined in NBA history and is within 15 more playoff game appearances from moving to ranking 4th in NBA history. In addition, Coach Scott’s .579% winning career playoff percentage is the 4th highest among all current NBA head coaches. trailing only Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich and Stan Van Gundy.
“Byron’s combination of high-level success and depth of experience, both as a head coach and as a player, is a tremendous asset for our organization. He is a strong leader with a proven track record of winning in both the regular season and the playoffs. We’re confident Coach Scott will positively impact the strong culture we have put in place here in Cleveland over the past five years.” said Cavs General Manager Chris Grant. “We’re very excited for Coach Scott to get started. His experience and leadership will be a critical element in our drive to achieve the franchise’s ultimate goal.”
After four seasons with New Jersey, Coach Scott was hired by the New Orleans Hornets where he improved the Hornets by 38 wins, from a lowly 18 victories in 2004-05 to a 56-win campaign just three years later in 2007-08. This win total is the New Orleans’ franchise record and earned Coach Scott the Red Auerbach trophy as the 2007-08 NBA Coach of the Year. Coach Scott also led the Hornets to an appearance in the Western Conference Semifinals that same season, as well as leading the Western Conference All-Star Team as its head coach in the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans where, ironically, the west lost to the eastern conference, and its All-Star Game MVP, LeBron James.
In his second year with the Hornets during the 2005-06 season, Coach Scott guided the Hornets to a 38-44 record, an NBA best 20-game win improvement from his first season in New Orleans, despite Hurricane Katrina displacing the team from its hometown and forcing the Hornets to play in four different home arenas throughout the 2005-06 campaign. Coach Scott followed the 2007-08 effort by leading the Hornets to 49 regular season wins and back to the playoffs in 2008-09.
Prior to his stint in New Orleans, Coach Scott led the New Jersey Nets to the most successful run in franchise history. In his first season in 2000-01, he spearheaded rebuilding a New Jersey team with a 26-56 record before guiding them to a franchise-high and Eastern Conference best 52-30 record followed by the Nets’ first-ever trip to the NBA Finals in 2001-02. The 26-win improvement marked the sixth-largest year-to-year improvement in NBA history and the team also won its first Atlantic Division title in franchise history. Scott also earned head coaching honors for the 2002 Eastern Conference All-Stars. (Coach Scott is one of just six coaches to earn the honor for both conferences)
The following season (2002-03) he guided the Nets back to the NBA Finals after winning a second consecutive Atlantic Division title.
“I want to thank Chris Grant and Dan Gilbert and the entire ownership group for this great opportunity. In meeting with Dan and Chris I could tell they have a solid team and family approach to everything and that really impressed me,” said the Cavaliers’ new skipper, Byron Scott. “The deeper we got into these discussions, the better I felt about the situation. This is a great job and an impressive organization and I am very happy to be a part of it. Everything about it just felt like a really good fit for both me and the team. I am anxious to get going and to build on the success the Cavaliers have experienced in recent years.”
Prior to his successful coaching career, the Inglewood, California native enjoyed an outstanding NBA playing career. Selected 4th overall in the first round of the 1983 NBA Draft, by the San Diego Clippers, Scott played 14 seasons with three different teams (the Lakers, Indiana Pacers and Vancouver Grizzlies), winning three NBA titles with the Lakers in 1985, 1987 and 1988 as a key starter on the Lakers famed ‘Showtime’ era teams.
In 1,073 games (717 starts), the 6-foot-4 guard averaged 14.1 points on .482 shooting, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 28.1 minutes per game. In 183 postseason games (122 starts), he posted career playoff averages of 13.4 points on .482 shooting, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 29.3 minutes per game. Coach Scott has been a consistent winner as both a player and a coach. In his 14-year playing career, Scott experienced 12 winning seasons and his team reached the playoffs in 13 of those 14 seasons.
The Cavaliers new head coach attended Arizona State, where he finished his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,752 points. As a senior, he was named First Team All-Pac 10 after averaging 21.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
Off the court, Coach Scott’s non-profit organization, The Byron Scott Children’s Fund, has raised more than $6 million dollars over the past decade, with the proceeds going to various children’s charities.