Originally written on Stepien Rules  |  Last updated 4/18/13
Byron Scott compiled a record of 64-166 during his tenure as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  That mark, for some perspective, is only a 2-14 slide away—during the lockout-shortened season of 2011-12, perhaps—from matching the 66-180 record the Cavs totaled from 1981-83 under the ownership of Ted Stepien. Scott also set an NBA record with 26 consecutive losses in 2011 and saw his winning percentage actually decline from .318 to .293 in his third year on the Cavaliers' sidelines.  With all that in mind, however—along with the personal grudge I somewhat hold against Scott for helping to run my guys Christian Eyenga and Samardo Samuels out of the league—I still woke up on Thursday morning unsure if firing Scott was actually the best move to make.  Dan Gilbert, Chris Grant and the rest of the Cavaliers organization elected to make that move regardless, though, and the search for a new head coach is now underway.  But before I can engage in discussions about Mike Malone, Brian Shaw, Mike Brown (?!?!?) or whoever else, I need to first talk about the many layers of this decision that left me conflicted throughout the day.   1. If Kyrie Irving didn't want Byron Scott fired, why do it? My thought process during the month of April went like this: the only way Byron Scott would / could / should be fired is if Kyrie Irving wanted him gone.  As I watched Irving turn in the worst month of his NBA career while his "Basketball Father" sat scorching on the hot seat, I started to think that maybe he was cool with a new voice in the huddle.  Not necessarily calling for Byron to lose his job, mind you, but okay if the ax came down. After standing three feet away from Kyrie while he addressed the media at Cleveland Clinic Courts, though, the kid looked to me like someone had just shot his dog. "I feel like I lost a part of myself," he said, as depressed as I've ever seen him. So while I walked into Cleveland Clinic Courts thinking that maybe Irving did want Scott out, I left completely convinced of the opposite. Nobody is that good of an actor, not even the guy who plays Uncle Drew.   2. Is firing Scott, then, in some ways, a move towards the type of organizational control the Cavaliers lacked during the LeBron James Era? I suppose we can only surmise that it is, then, if the decision came in contrast with what your superstar wanted. Irving, in my humble opinion, did not want Scott to be fired. Tristan Thompson certainly didn't and I'd imagine Dion Waiters didn't either after Scott was as vocal as he was in his desire to spend the fourth overall pick on a Sixth Man from Syracuse.  Those three aside, then, who's left? The only other people who matter, as it relates to the rebuilding effort specifically, are the general manager and the owner. The ultimate group who then decided to act in the best interest of the organization even if that interest conflicted with the desires of Irving? Is that the narrative?   3. Which also makes me wonder why I am questioning the narrative of a coach who was fired after losing nearly as much as the late Ted Stepien did.  My real problem here, I've decided, is that I completely bought into "The Process" so much that I became numb to the losing. I covered every home game during the losing streak of 2010-11 and essentially cried uncle already before setting my sights on 2013-14 campaign. A season, they said, when the organizational goal would inevitably shift to winning now, and away from tanking towards draft picks and lottery balls. That process involved extending Byron Scott's contract as recently as this year. If I can just watch that defense with my hands over my eyes a little bit longer, I thought, everything will be okay by next season. That's when the owner's desire to win would trickle down to the general manager, then to the coach and eventually to the players. That culture of winning would again be created and the season would be filled with talk of No. 6 and No. 7 seeds while the Cavaliers jockeyed for position in the Eastern Conference. The embarrassing efforts were supposed to be ending soon.   4. But maybe thought processes like that are why the Cavaliers needed the fresh start a new coach would inevitably provide? I would have liked to see the Cavaliers believe in their process enough to see it through to completion.  By completion I mean allow Scott to Coach Irving in year three of his young NBA career and see what happens from there  Despite that, I drove back down the road to work after the Irving presser thinking that maybe they'd have just lost next year too anyway, and a fresh start now is better than a fresh start later. The organizational decision to lose over the last two seasons had forced everyone to lose just a little bit more.  Now that's over, and the next coach--along with Chris Grant--will be held to a new standard in 2013-14. We'll see what happens then, I guess. In the meantime, though, best of luck to Byron Scott in his next adventure.
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