It’s an unpredictable thing, the NBA coaching fraternity.
There are friendships among certain coaches, likely some alliances, and as in other jobs, surely animosity and petty jealousy too.
There’s also the unexpected bond between Lakers Coach Byron Scott and San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich.
They’ve never been on the same staff but have shared a few beverages together. Popovich recently gave Scott a case of wine, of which Scott said 11 of the 12 bottles were still unopened.
Was it bad wine? Not necessarily, Scott said Friday before the Lakers played San Antonio.
“I don’t go home and drink a bottle,” he said, adding a joke about the current woes of the Lakers. “Sometimes I feel like it. I might need harder stuff.”
Popovich quickly denied that they’d consumed a few varietals over the years. “I’ve never had a glass of wine in my life,” he deadpanned.
When Scott was fired in New Orleans, the first person to call him was Popovich. The second was former Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Scott said.
“He’s good people. It’s fun to be around him,” Popovich, one of the NBA’s biggest curmudgeons, said of Scott. “He’s always ready to enjoy life. Good sense of humor. Puts things in perspective. Honest. I just enjoy being around him.”
Walton’s run done
Golden State Coach Steve Kerr returned to the sidelines after undergoing two off-season back surgeries, ending Luke Walton’s term as the Warriors’ interim coach.
It went incredibly well for Walton, who was 39-4 while Kerr was away.
“He did a remarkable job,” Popovich said. “I think what was most impressive about him was his demeanor. Who knows what he felt inside, but he never showed frustration or fear or excitement that would hurt the team at all. He was very measured in everything he did with that club and they responded to him. For a young guy, first time [coaching], I thought he was fantastic.”
The former Lakers forward obviously had a talented roster at his disposal, not to mention daily talks with Kerr to continue carrying out his vision.
Walton also had the respect and support of Warriors players.
“Luke did a phenomenal job holding the fort down and it’s great to see him get the opportunity that I did,” Warriors forward Draymond Green told Yahoo Sports. “Now I have to enjoy these next 4 1/2 months with him because I know every GM is going to be beating his door down at season’s end.”
Walton is in his second season on the Warriors’ staff.
Last Portland stop
Portland has always been a rough city for the Lakers in the Kobe Bryant era.
Former coach Phil Jackson often blamed the rain and the team’s long visits to the Nike store in nearby Beaverton.
Whatever it was, the Lakers are 9-28 in Portland since 1996, Bryant’s rookie season. Saturday marks Bryant’s last game there.
“I don’t know what it is,” said Scott, 0-3 in Portland in his Lakers coaching career. “Some teams and some players just don’t play well in certain places. Sometimes that’s what you’ve got to chalk it up to.”
Up next for the Lakers:
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Moda Center.
On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.
Records: Lakers 9-36; Trail Blazers 19-26.
Record vs. Trail Blazers: 0-2.
Update: Portland has won its last seven games against the Lakers, continuing years of regular-season dominance, especially in Portland. Trail Blazers guards Damian Lillard (29 points) and CJ McCollum (28 points) ran around the Lakers’ backcourt with ease in a 108-96 victory two months ago in Portland.