Did Byron Scott Kill His Career With A Nine-Iron?

When things are going wrong with a basketball program, no matter the level, the fan’s first instinct is to examine the coach’s priorities. Indeed, one of the worst indictments of a coach’s commitment to the program/franchise/rec league is that “he’d rather be working on his golf game than his team’s game.” You can probably already see where this is going.

Byron Scott and Chris Paul
(”Okay, we’re down 3, 16 seconds left, their big man’s in foul trouble… just do whatever. Where’re we playing tomorrow?”)

So then, taking the Mystery Machine down to New Orleans to help figure out the quick demise of the Byron Scott era, we’re only going to need one clue: a bag full of Calloways and Pings. YAHOO!’s Adrian Wojnarowski ably breaks down the breakdown after the break.

From the ubiquitous Y & Exclamation Point:

With three games in four nights, his franchise in freefall, the coach was planning tee times in SoCal.

“Yeah, that bothered some people,” one Hornets source said.

This wasn’t out of character for Scott. His players wanted a more sophisticated playbook, management wanted longer hours and more diligent preparation and, well, Byron Scott wanted to hit the links. To be fair, this was Scott when he was the NBA’s Coach of the Year, and this was him now.

Embarrassed by the Lakers on Sunday, the Hornets beat the Clippers on Monday, and the team’s departure to Phoenix for Wednesday night’s game had been pushed back to accommodate the coach’s golf game. Scott played 18 holes with his last two allies in the organization, superstar Chris Paul and his brother/business manager, C.J. Paul.

Wait wait wait. Let’s run that one by again:

 the team’s departure to Phoenix for Wednesday night’s game had been pushed back to accommodate the coach’s golf game.

WOW. It’s not as bad as if it had been the trip home pushed back - they were on a road trip no matter what - but it’s pretty easy to see why Paul was pretty much the only player who still held Scott in high regard.

While this might be a good short-term move for the team - as star forward David West pointed out, the team didn’t do much in the way of, y’know, running plays - it’s probably a pipe dream to think that Paul’s going to pick up that option for a fourth year in 2011… if he’s even in town that long.

Besides, New Orleans is a basketball attention ghetto. It’s not the fault of anyone in the Hornets organization or anything; it’s just the reality of a small market. Paul and West are legitimately good players, and it’d probably take a felony kidnapping to get someone from ESPN down there*.

But we digress. Coaches, heed the mournful tale of Byron Scott: there isn’t a golf game enjoyable or relaxing enough to be worth your job.

*This is an exaggeration, of course; New Orleans has 16 games on national TV, including six games on ESPN and three on TNT. Still, that’s a little low, innit?