With a nucleus of Blake Griffin and (hopefully) Chris Paul in place, the Los Angeles Clippers’ head coaching vacancy is a bona fide glamor gig, with names as varied as Lionel Hollins, George Karl and Jeff Van Gundy all being touted as potential hires. However, as Clipper Blog co-founder / current ESPN.com hoops scribe Kevin Arnovitz warns, “The Clippers job isn’t won in a conference room or in whiteboard exhibitions, it’s won at Sterling’s home up in Malibu and at dining rooms for the well-heeled in Beverly Hills.”
Of all the privileges as team owner, choosing a head coach might be the one Sterling savors most. The ring-kissing procession places him at the center of the affair. Candidates regale him with praise, and share insider anecdotes. They grant him equal footing on discussions of basketball while eliciting his opinions, which they listen to attentively, along with Sterling’s descriptions of what he wants in a head coach. That the open position with his team is more desirable than ever makes this year’s proceedings all the more fun for Sterling.
This is Sterling’s show, and the candidates will be judged by his criteria. Scott might be coming off a 64-166 stint in Cleveland, but examined through Sterling’s eyes — and getting inside Sterling’s head is a strange exercise unto itself — and all of the sudden Scott’s negative trend line as a coach fades into the background.
On the surface, Scott seems most equipped to win Donald Sterling’s favor. As a Laker great and native, Scott is beloved by Los Angeles, its mucky-mucks, rank-and-file fans and press corps. He has a familiarity with the city’s celebrity culture and would win the press conference for himself and the team. Any table that has Scott dining with the owner, brass and spouses would be imbued with a halo effect, and it’s easy to imagine the well-wishers stopping by to bid greetings to a smiling Sterling party on their way out of the restaurant. Scott would crush the one-on-one at Sterling’s compound in Malibu, an event as important as any résumé bullet point.