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ASU's 50 Best Professional Athletes: No. 16 Basketball’s Byron Scott

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Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Partially due to his enigmatic time as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and also because he play with three NBA Hall of Famers, Byron Scott’s solid career is often overlooked. The former Pac-10 Freshman of the Year was a key cog on the Showtime-era Lakers and also served a bridge to the Shaq-Kobe dynasty as well.

In 1983, the San Diego Clippers drafted Scott with the fourth overall pick and traded him to the Lakers for Norm Nixon. Scott was immediately a spark and earned NBA All-Rookie honors. By his second season, he became the regular starting shooting guard in a lineup featuring Magic Johnson, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and James Worthy and led the NBA with a 43.3 percent shooting clip from beyond the arc.

Over 10 consecutive seasons with the Lakers, Scott earned three NBA championships, and during the 1987-88 title run, he led the Lakers in scoring at 21.7 points per game. He also racked up a career-high 1.91 steals per game that season.

A consistent scoring option at the 2-guard, Scott was a starter for nine consecutive years in Los Angeles. And in eight of his 11 NBA seasons, Scott shot over 35 percent from three-point range.

After bouncing to Indiana and Vancouver, a 35-year-old Scott returned to the Lakers to serve as a steady-head veteran for a roster that featured Shaquille O’Neal and some 18-year-old hotshot named Kobe Bryant.

After spending the summer of 1997 playing in Greece, Scott began his coaching career. By 2000, Scott was the head coach of the New Jersey Nets. In 2001-02, Scott led the Nets to the NBA FInals where they ultimately lost to the Kobe-Shaq Lakers. He took them to the Finals again the next season but lost in six games to the San Antonio Spurs.

Scott was fired from the Nets during the 2003-04 season, and he moved on to the New Orleans Hornets in 2004. By the 2007-08 season, he led the team to a 56-26 record, good enough to earn All-Star and Western Conference Coach of the Year Honors.

He was fired after the 2009 season, and after a brief stint in Cleveland, he was hired by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2014. His 38-126 (.232) record in Los Angeles was the worst of any of the 16 coaches that had led the Lakers for at least two seasons.

Check back tomorrow to see who will be No. 15 on our list of the 50 best professional athletes to come out of Arizona State.