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Like Father, Like Son: Lakers Head Coach Byron Scott is Proud to Share His Dream with His Son Thomas

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Byron Scott is introduced as the successor to Mike D'Antoni as the Lakers' head coach during a news conference in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 29, 2014.  Scott is the former head coach for New Jersey, New Orleans and Cleveland, reaching two NBA Finals with the Nets. He was the NBA's coach of the year in 2008. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Byron Scott is introduced as the successor to Mike D’Antoni as the Lakers’ head coach during a news conference in Los Angeles Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Scott is the former head coach for New Jersey, New Orleans and Cleveland, reaching two NBA Finals with the Nets. He was the NBA’s coach of the year in 2008. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

By Brandon I. Brooks
Special to the NNPA from the Los Angeles Sentinel

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott is living his wildest dream. He gets to coach his hometown Lakers team, which is the team he idolized growing up in Inglewood, California playing basketball at Morningside High School.

The best part about Byron’s dream is he gets to share it with his son Thomas Scott, who works on the Lakers staff as an Assistant Coach in player development.

Thomas, parallel to his father, is living his wildest dream coaching for the Lakers. He grew up idolizing the Lakers but unlike his father, he grew up with the reality of the NBA as a backdrop.

“It all started when I was a kid and every summer, I was able to go a basketball camp,” said Thomas.  “I was very fortunate and blessed to go to my dad’s basketball camp twice a summer.  It was kind of non-negotiable but I wanted to do it.  I love basketball. Being a shadow of my dad trying to go to practice with him on Saturday morning, going to games on the weekends and trying to get there on weekdays and things like that. I was exposed to a lot of stuff.”

During the 1980’s, Byron Scott was NBA royalty winning three championships (1985, 1987, 1988) as a critical part of the “Showtime Lakers” led by Magic Johnson with teammates Kareem Abdul–Jabbar and James Worthy. Byron went on to play for the Indiana Pacers, Vancouver Grizzlies, and again with the Lakers, who had drafted a high school rookie named Kobe Bryant and acquired a big fish through free agency named Shaquille O’neal.  Scott was instrumental as a leader for the Lakers and a tandem destined for greatness during what is deemed now as the Shaq and Kobe era.

Scott would leave the Lakers and play one more season of basketball overseas for the Greek Basket League team Panathinaikos.  Fittingly, Scott led them to a championship going out on top, ending a storied Hall of Fame playing career.

Byron pursued a career in coaching immediately after he finished playing in 1998. He became an assistant for the Sacramento Kings and next got his first head-coaching gig as head coach of the New Jersey Nets leading them to two back – to-back finals appearances. Scott would later coach for the New Orleans Hornets winning coach of the year in 2008. He also coached the Cleveland Cavilers before getting his dream job as the Lakers head coach this past season.

“You know I imagined it and I dreamed about it”, said Byron when asked did he ever imagine his wildest dreams would come true.

“When I played for the Lakers and got into coaching, I always said its the ultimate job.  Larry Brown who was a great coach, was one of my coaches during my NBA career, he always talked about the New York Knicks would be his dream job. When I heard that, I started thinking okay, what would be my dream job? It was real quick it was like the Lakers! That would be my dream job to come back here and coach the purple and gold.”

Byron believes his story can inspire many to dream big.  “You know I dreamed of playing for the Lakers, I dreamed about playing in the NBA, I dreamed about coaching the Lakers, if you truly believe in your dreams and if you truly believe in the man upstairs there are so many things that are possible. This is one of those dreams that if I pass away in the next years, I pretty much fulfilled everything that I wanted to fulfill.  So I would be a happy man.”

Byron raised his son Thomas to dream big and never ask for a handout. Thomas always had to battle the bright lights of Hollywood and the fact that his dad was a famous NBA player. It’s hard for any kid with a successful father to follow in his footsteps but Thomas never seemed detoured or intimidated by the spotlight.

While coaching in New Orleans (Hornets), Byron saw that Thomas was ready to step into the professional world of basketball but had to earn his place if he was going to gain any respect.

“I didn’t want anybody to ever come back and say well the only reason Thomas is coaching is because his dad is coaching, his dad gave that to him,” said Byron.

“I wanted him to earn everything so the first thing in New Orleans, he was an assistant video coordinator, in Cleveland, he was a player development coach. Cleveland loved the way he worked and the way he related to players.  They wanted him to be an assistant coach for the D-League team (Canton Charge) and he comes to L.A. and becomes and assistant for the D-League team (Los Angeles D-fenders). So at that particular time when I got the job and I talked to Mitch Kupchak and told him I wanted to hire him and put him on my staff. The good thing is they had watched him in the D-League so they thought he was extremely good with the players as well. So he had the resume at that time to make that leap. It wasn’t like I was giving him anything he had worked and earned it. That was the first thing I wanted him to do and he continues to do. If he continues to work the way he’s been working and he’s been getting accolades from the NBA to go the China this year to be an assistant coach out there, these are all the things he’s done on his own. The only thing I really did is I put him in the position to earn it and he did all the hard work.”

Thomas with the support and collaboration of his father has created You Ball Training, which is a company that provides basketball skills training from a professional level to athletes of all ages.

Led by Thomas, the organization provides a promising path towards improvement by his “Basketball Boot Camp” approach. “If you want to get better it takes hard work everyday, repetition equals progression,” says Thomas.

“Growing up you think that’s normal, seeing Magic Johnson talking to you, Kobe Bryant is asking you to rebound for him and different things like that when you are in middle school and that’s not normal. Reggie Miller giving you pointers on how to shoot and things like that.  I was trying to find myself in terms of what do I love and how can I help people? And I realized God blessed me to be in the presence of greatness and pick the brains of people and players so I ended up developing You Ball Training to pass it on because if I wasn’t able to pass this information on, it would be all for a waste.”

“So I felt like it was my duty on this earth to pass on all this information that I was able to be around and all the exchanges I was able to have at an early age. I also had a chance to reflect on how important those things were as a kid and how it impacted my life so I want kids to be able to have that same experience and have that impact.  I run into people that are in there thirties that say, man I remember Byron Scott basketball camp. I want to be able to be an old man and when I see young adults that are doing well for themselves and they say thank you for the lessons you taught me at You Ball Training basketball camps.  That is pretty much the reason why I got into doing this.”

Byron is the catalyst of his family and has always kept his kids grounded in faith.   “I think its (faith) very important, I think first of all it makes your family a whole. I think when your family prays together they stay together,” said Byron.

“We had three young kids at the time (Thomas, LonDen & DaRon), Anita and I, and every Sunday we would try to go to church. Now we didn’t make it every Sunday but we wanted to get them involved in the church and just let them know and introduce them to our heavenly father just to let them know how we felt.  And my father, Thomas’ grandfather was instrumental in doing that as well. So I think from a spiritual standpoint, you know in our family it was always God first, then family, then we thought about the individual things we want to do or we want to achieve and I think we raised our kids to believe in that to this very day.  So they understand how important it is to have God in their lives.”

When asked to describe their father and son relationship, Thomas said he can always call on his dad for advice and different things.  “I feel like I am there for him in a lot of ways, different ways that nobody else can be there for him,” said Thomas.  “We are always trying to support each other. We are around each other so much at work, we try to give each other our distance but at the same time we have a really good relationship. I am constantly learning from him.  And we’ve got the same kind of personality in terms of temper and keeping things light but also working really hard.  And that kind of credits our relationship I think.”

Like father, like son.  No better saying can be said for two individuals that love what they do, love the people they get to do it with and love where they get to do it.

The city of Los Angeles is home to Byron Scott and Thomas Scott and will always be home, no matter where they go.

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Black History

IN MEMORIAM: Referee Jim Burch Got the Final Whistle in The Game

Jim Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019). To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

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jim burch
Jim Burch

By Tamara Shiloh

Created in 1953, the Atlantic Coast Conference, an athletic conference headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., quickly rose to prominence. Within 13 years, the university and college teams in its membership had a number of victories to its credit. North Carolina State University won the first three championships, and the conference was getting heavy exposure outside of the region. Several ACC teams went to the Final Four of the NCAA’s basketball championships. In North Carolina, Duke University took four titles, Wake Forest University took two and University of North Carolina had one victory as did the University of Maryland.

Life inside the ACC could not have been better, except for one minor but not overlooked detail: there were no Black players or officials.

But Jim Burch (1926–2019), who began his officiating career with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1959, would become the first, signing on with the ACC in 1969. His debut, however, was delayed for a season because “he reportedly refused to cut his hair and sideburns.”

A Raleigh, N.C., native raised in Larchmont, N.Y., Burch was a 1949 graduate of North Carolina’s Fayetteville State University. There he was a two-sport athlete – football and baseball – having large dreams.

Burch “talked about sitting in the ‘colored’ section of Reynolds Coliseum watching games, telling his friends that he was going to be on that court someday,” ACC referee Jamie Luckie told ESPN in 2019 referring to the sports complex in Raleigh, N.C. “They said he was crazy, and sure enough, he was on that court one day.”

Burch never made a big deal out of the historic mark, although many would benefit from his humility. He would train and mentor hundreds of officials over the years. In fact, it was Burch who gave Luckie his start in refereeing.

Throughout his 60-year career, Burch officiated in the CIAA, ACC, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and Southern Conference. He also worked 14 National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments and was an educator and administrator within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District.

Working as an educator made Burch “an unbelievable teacher of the game in terms of what he wanted us to do on the floor, how he wanted us to deal with coaches, how he wanted us to communicate, and just his delivery and style was one where he could get it across to you, but he was a teacher. That never stopped,” Luckie said.

Burch continued to make monumental achievements as well as give back.

Many of those he trained moved into CIAA, ACC, Southern Conference, and NCAA championship careers. He was twice featured in the NCAA Champions Magazine, served on numerous civic boards, and was the first African American to serve on the Charlotte Housing Authority board.

Burch was also inducted into eight different halls of fame, including the CIAA John B. McLendon Jr. Hall of Fame (February 2019).

To recognize the hard work of student athletes who exemplify the qualities of academic excellence, involvement in public service, and love of athletic competition, Burch established the James T. Burch Scholarship.

Before retiring in 2018, he served as the head coordinator of officials for the South Atlantic Conference and the CIAA.

Burch died at his home in North Carolina in 2019 at the age of 91.

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Bay Area

Skyline High Girls Volleyball Team Makes History

The team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match.

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The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team
The Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team.

As the season comes to a close for the Skyline High School Girls Volleyball team, the members are celebrating that they went farther than any Skyline or OUSD/OAL volleyball team ever has. On the final day, November 19, the team played in Orange County, taking on Santa Clarita Christian School in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 CIF State Championship match. Skyline fell short 3 games to 1, coming in as runner-up. The photo above shows the team posing with their trophy after the match.

 

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Commentary

OPINION: Would You Pressure Your Kid’s Coach to Apologize for Winning by 106-0?

“Regarding Inglewood H.S. vs. Morningside H.S. Friday night 10/29 game, we at the Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) are saddened beyond words by the events that transpired at the football game Friday between Inglewood and Morningside high schools,” the IUSD stamen read. “We will conduct a full investigation and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that a similar outcome never happens again under an IUSD athletic program.”

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Inglewood Football Coach Mil’Von James (Nick Koza/Photo)
Inglewood Football Coach Mil’Von James (Nick Koza/Photo)

By Kenneth Miller | Inglewood Today

Coaches push the athletes they train to put their all into mastering the mental and physical aspects of their sport, preparing them to edge out competitors and perform at the height of their abilities.

But there are real-life situations, it seems, when attaining excellence proves to be too much – or maybe just not good enough.

This seems to have been the case October 29 when an impressive shut-out victory for Inglewood High School in Los Angeles County ended up turning into a bitter crosstown game of guilt, blame and grievances. That day, Inglewood High football coach and former Cleveland Browns defensive back Mil’Von James led his team to a 106-0 victory over rivals Morningside High School.

Since that shellacking, education authorities have blasted James and Inglewood High for being too focused on winning that they failed to exhibit a spirit of compassion and sportsmanship.

The California Interscholastic Federation -Southern Section (CIFSS), the governing body of high school athletics in the state, released a scathing statement regarding the wide margin of the game’s final score.

“The CIF Southern Section expects that all athletic contests are to be conducted under the strictest code of good sportsmanship. “We expect coaches, players, officials, administrators and students to adhere to the Six Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship,” CIF-SS fired off in a statement.

“A score of 106-0 does not represent these ideals,” the statement continued. “The CIF-SS condemns, in the strongest terms, results such as these. It is our expectation that the Inglewood administration will work towards putting in place an action plan so that an event such as this does not repeat itself.”

James, 38, said it was not his intention to degrade or demoralize the Morningside High team.

“I apologized for the way things turned out,” James said even though, during the game, he benched his defensive starters after the second quarter and most of his other frontline players in the second half.

But Inglewood continued to run up the score on its hapless opponent.

Anyone who knows James personally would know – and can attest to the fact — that his intent was never to bring shame to the game that he loves.

Coaches like James who have played college and pro football understand the fierce competitiveness it requires for young people to succeed when pursuing careers as professional athletes. They train their students to be warriors, to dominate their opponents. Varsity sports is the highest level of competition in high school.

Today, the advancement of training techniques and year-round coaching and development increases the likelihood that schools with the resources will outperform schools with sports programs that are underfunded or under-supported.

Since he became coach at Inglewood High three seasons ago, James has taken the team from a losing streak to being nearly undefeated. During that time, the team has moved from CIF-SS Division 13 to Division 2.

Inglewood student athletes have advantages in coaching and preparation that Morningside and many other schools do not.

James was a star on the football squad at Fremont High School in Los Angeles where he graduated in 2003. In college, he first played for the UNLV Rebels where he led the nation in passes; before transferring to UCLA and playing for the Bruins from 2003-2005.

After brief stints in the NFL and the Canadian Football League on the roster for the Cleveland Browns and the Vancouver Lions respectively, James began coaching high school football.

He is the founder and director of one of most successful ‘7 on 7’ leagues in the nation, responsible for scores of future and current high school, collegiate and professional players.

Chances are, if you have observed any top football program in California, you have you witnessed his impact on young players, their development and their unmatched leadership skills – on the field and off it.

The Inglewood Unified School District also blasted James and Inglewood High.

“Regarding Inglewood H.S. vs. Morningside H.S. Friday night 10/29 game, we at the Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) are saddened beyond words by the events that transpired at the football game Friday between Inglewood and Morningside high schools,” the IUSD stamen read. “We will conduct a full investigation and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that a similar outcome never happens again under an IUSD athletic program.”

High school sports, in many schools, is a training ground for college and pro athletes. Schools that have better resources will always have an edge.

It is unfortunate that this incident has placed a dark cloud over a high school sports program. Inglewood High’s football program should be celebrated for its league championship and undefeated record in a school district that is still in state receivership.

Kenneth Miller is the publisher of Inglewood Today.

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