Los Angeles Lakers Coach Byron Scott, in what could be a move to take media pressure off of his ailing superstar Kobe Bryant — but could also be a candid admission that could cost Scott his own job — admitted Friday that he made serious errors in managing the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer’s injury situation.
His blunders, Scott confessed, probably led to the torn rotator cuff suffered by Bryant Wednesday when he dunked the basketball in the third quarter of a 96-80 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans Wednesday night.
As reported in the Orange County Register, Scott realized weeks ago that in the early part of what has turned out to be a failed 2014/15 season for the Lakers, he was driving the aging Bryant too hard, leaving him in the game for more than 35 minutes on average in Los Angeles’ first 27 contests of the season.
“I found out early that I was playing him too many minutes,” Scott told reporters, adding that when he thinks about his own contribution to the Bryant’s injury, “it almost makes me sick.”
Bryant tried to let his coach and former teammate — the two were both members of the Lakers on the 1996/97 team — off the hook. When Scott texted an apology to Bryant, telling him that the excess minutes may have helped cause his torn rotator cuff, Bryant replied, “Nah, that ain’t it.”
But now the shoulder injury appears likely to put an end to Bryant’s season — and possibly his Hall of Fame career, with the star coming under pressure to decide whether he should now simply retire.
Scott also admitted another serious mistake that may have led to the devastating injury to Bryant’s shoulder. About six weeks ago, the coach confessed that Bryant told him the shoulder was hurting — and the coach did nothing about it.
Scott recalled asking Bryant, “Are you all right?” When Bryant shrugged off the question, Scott said he assumed that the shoulder problem was “a dead issue.”
But after suffering the rotator cuff tear on Wednesday, the Lakers legend reminded his coach of their earlier exchange.
“You remember when I said it?” Bryant asked the Los Angeles coach.
“Yeah, I remember,” Scott said.
“I think it was kind of hurting then and I just re-aggravated it on a much higher level,” Bryant told him, according to Scott.
The Los Angeles coach also said that the usual procedure would be for Bryant or any injured player to report his injury to the Lakers training staff. But Scott said he was not aware of whether Bryant had told the trainers about his nagging shoulder pain or not.