The fiercest of winds is upon them, swirling in every direction, dust and debris everywhere, their once-strong aura shaking at its cracked foundation.
The Lakers didn't need a head coach, they needed some old-fashioned storm shutters.
For this, Byron Scott will do nicely.
Their old friend and new boss won't give them more curb appeal or move them into a better neighborhood, but for the next couple of years he should keep them from turning into a pile of rubble, and at this tenuous point, can the Lakers really ask for anything more?
He's not glamorous, but, in case you haven't noticed, the Lakers have recently been body-slammed by all things glamorous.
He's only won 44% of his 937 games as an NBA head coach, but, in case you haven't been watching, the Lakers are staring down a couple of seasons where even "We . . . want . . . Phil!" couldn't make them winners.
Scott wasn't hired to win a championship; he was hired to protect a threatened asset, calm an angry fan base, and keep the electricity running until the winds change. This is not a very sexy mandate, but somebody has to do it, and it might as well be an old-school Laker who remembers when Showtime was more than "Homeland," it was actually home.
Scott was hired for his three Lakers championship rings' worth of playing credibility, two NBA Finals appearances' worth of coaching credibility, and the sort of folded-arms, piercing-eye glare that says, I've got this.
Scott has Kobe covered. He was Bryant's teammate and locker-room mentor when the high school kid entered the league in 1996, and thus will be a perfect bookend boss to oversee Bryant's departure. Did you hear what Bryant said about him earlier this summer at a basketball camp? Scott might be the first Lakers coach who was actually hired after Bryant publicly endorsed him. Even though Bryant will begin this season at his most vulnerable, he is still the most powerful voice in the room, and finding someone who has the strength and knowledge to understand and respond to that voice was a necessity.
"We've had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years," Bryant had said in a quote that might need to be pulled out occasionally and waved in front of his face during tough upcoming seasons. "He knows me extremely well. I've always been a fan of his."
Scott also has the rebuilding covered. This is a man who has taken some bad teams and made them at least temporarily decent. In the span of one season, he led the New Jersey Nets from 26 wins to 52 and a spot in the NBA Finals. He later led New Orleans from 39 wins to 56. OK, so he also led the Cleveland Cavaliers from 61 wins to 19, but give him a break; that was the year LeBron James took his talents to South Beach.
On a Lakers team that currently appears beyond hope, Scott will always be able to project hope. Even in a situation that will not get better until the team is able to shed itself of the foolish two-year, $48-million contract given to Bryant last winter, Scott knows how to divert the narrative. Whether he can do anything with the faded likes of Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer could be another story entirely, but maybe everyone won't be so frazzled watching him try.
Finally, Scott also has the Lakers' fans covered. His presence will end all those Phil Jackson cheers or Mike D'Antoni boos. No other serious candidate for this job would have received the sort of embrace that will be felt by beloved B-Scott. Most Lakers fans either like him or respect him or at least fondly remember him. He is cherished as part of that starry Showtime lineup of Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and A.C. Green. He is trusted after his presence as an analyst on the Lakers' TV network last season.
If Mike Brown was vinegar and D'Antoni was poison, Scott will be received as a nicely aged merlot. Many believe that since the death of Jerry Buss, his son Jim has forgotten or ignored the championship values of the Lakers' past. This hiring is a reminder that at least he remembers some of its players.
That the Lakers took so long to make this hire has been a point of some discussion, but, face it, they could have waited until Christmas and still not found a hot young coach or established championship coach willing to step into this storm. Byron Scott might not be Mr. Right, but with those winds howling and all Hades on the verge of breaking loose, he is a more than strong enough Mr. Right Now.