When all else fails, the professional athlete goes to the blame the media card. It’s a strategy that elicits sympathy because the media is often seen as inciting a riot. The media derives glee from turmoil is the prevailing theory. While it is true that media reporting can, unintentionally, take an incident, exaggerate the details and create a dramatic effect, athletes grumble that media members are clueless about their reality. Specifically, in the nature of competition conflicts will occur. But it doesn’t change anything in the long run.
It’s what Julius Randle is saying a couple of days after Byron Scott blasted him for his moodiness and pouting whenever he is removed from games. Scott called Randle’s behavior immature which is altogether different from Scott calling Randle, the man, immature.
Scott said: “I think the main thing is when you take him out of a game, how he acts sometimes. But again, I chalk it up to immaturity and just being inexperienced at this level.”
As a story, Randle’s “immaturity” raged like wildfire with a dozen different interpretations of the deteriorating relationship between Scott and Randle. Scott is often viewed as a bully preacher who doesn’t give his players enough leeway to be and act thier age. D’Angelo Russell is 19 years old. Julius Randle is 21 years old. Here’s a newsflash: not only do they act like they are young, they play like it too.
Scott is a hard driving coach with perfectionist tendencies who has very high expectations. He has a proven ability in developing personnel. He did so with Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving and Jordan Clarkson. From the outside, it appeared as if Scott was losing Julius Randle in a personality war. Randle, who self-describes himself as emotional, needs less hard-ass Scott and more nurturing Scott. After last night’s near win in Sacramento, Julius Randle cleared the air.
“Me and him (Scott) never had issues. Y’all (media) made it that way.”
Blame the media, right on cue. Before last night, Randle’s body language said the exact opposite, that he and Scott did have issues. But to his point: just because Randle is pissed about something Scott has done doesn’t mean their relationship is in the toilet. Randle may be more mature than Scott is giving him credit for, meaning he gets a little ticked now and then, but then he lets it go.
Randle has big dreams and goals and has struggled this year with the parts of his game that don’t include rebounding. If Phil Jackson was the Lakers coach, Randle still would be moody. When you have high expectations and they are not being met, you self-inflict a lot of emotional rage.
As for Scott, he says: “If you want to believe all the reports out there, then obviously, if you read them, then we’ve got a terrible relationship. But if you want to know the truth, we’ve got a great relationship. He knows that at times, as I’ve told him, because I care about him so much as a basketball player and as a person, I’m going to be hard on him. And I expect him to be disappointed in certain things. But I expect him to learn and I expect him to be a great player in this league. “
Byron Scott hasn’t changed. He was traded for Norm Nixon in 1984 and came to a hostile Lakers team that loved Nixon and resented his presence. The Lakers players made Scott know he was despised and he had to prove himself. Scott admits (as does Jerry West) it was a tough and fragile situation that could have broken either bad or good. That Scott survived it speaks to his innate tough core that has become his calling card and identity. He coaches Randle the same way he coached Paul and Irving and Clarkson. They responded by pushing themselves to a higher lever and to take Scott’s criticisms as situational critiques and not character flaws.
Does it always work that way? No. As hard as Scott has been with Randle and Russell-though Russell’s temperament allows him to take it in stride more than Randle’s- he was just as tough last year with Nick Young. Scott was too harsh and Young had a miserable year, a career worst. But then, Young is just a bit player, not a talent who has a great future and potential he needs to tap into with a lot of off-season work and improvement.
“The thing that I told him (Randle) is that he’s probably never had adversity in his life on a basketball court because he’s been so good everywhere he’s been. This is the first time that he’s had to face it. I told him, ‘you’re going to have to deal with it. And the way you deal with it is going to determine how great you’re going to be as a basketball player’.” (Byron Scott, Los Angeles Times).
photo via llananba