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When legendary Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss died Feb. 18, 2013, it was fair to wonder if Byron Scott's dream of coaching the team he loves so dearly was gone along with him.

All those years with Phil Jackson winning rings, with the question looming in the background of who would be next when the Zen Master finally stepped aside, and Scott was always seen as the guy who Buss had atop his list. They had a special relationship that was born in a special time, with Scott and the "Showtime" Lakers winning three titles during his 11 seasons there and the two staying in touch long past his playing days. But in the post-Buss era that has been so challenging so far, there was simply no way to know how the Jim Buss-Mitch Kupchak-Jeanie Buss power trio would view Scott if the job opened up again.

More than a year later, his dream is alive and well.

Scott, the former head coach of the New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers, interviewed for the Lakers job May 20 and is known to be a serious candidate. And his candidacy, quite clearly, has everything to do with the relationship he has with still-playing Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. Scott's last season in the NBA was Bryant's first (1996-97), and the mentorship that began as teammates back then has long since evolved into a close relationship.

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"I think the Kobe relationship is going to play a big part," Scott, who currently works as an analyst for the Lakers' television network, told USA TODAY Sports by phone Tuesday. "Again, I think I've got a hand up on (the job) because of our relationship. We get along extremely well. Kobe knows all about me and what I'm about. He knows that I'm an old-school coach who's very demanding on the defensive end and knows that defense and rebounding wins championships, so I think from that point of view we see eye to eye.

"Our relationship is great. We talked over the summer. We text each other. His ideas on the game of basketball and my ideas on the game of basketball are a lot alike, so we share a lot of the same views when it comes to the way the game should be played. So to me, it's going to be fun."

According to two people with knowledge of the situation, former Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy and former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach and Lakers player and assistant Kurt Rambis have also interviewed for the job. Los Angeles Clippers assistant Alvin Gentry is expected to interview soon as well, as is former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition on anonymity because the interview had not been made public.

But to hear the supremely confident Scott tell it, he's the only logical choice here.

"I think what they're going to probably try to do at the end of the day is hire the best coach ... possible to bring the organization back to the glory years," Scott continued. "I'm a little biased, because I think that person is me."

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While Kupchak, the Lakers' general manager, has said several times that Bryant won't be consulted in the search, he made it clear in a recent conference call that Bryant is playing a huge part in this process. He's entering the first year of his two-year, $48.5 million deal, meaning there is a dire need for the Lakers to get serious bang for those beaucoup bucks. Bryant will be coming off the toughest season of his career, as he returned from his Achilles tendon tear on Dec. 8, 2013 only to be out for the season six games later when he fractured his left knee.

Scott, who sat with Kupchak and Jim Buss during his interview, admitted that he doesn't have total clarity when it comes to how he is perceived by the Lakers' new brass. But this much is clear: He's feeling good about his chances at finally landing his dream job.

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"Well I think you've got two great people in Jeanie and Jim taking the helm of the team," he said. "There's only one Dr. Buss. He's the innovator, but they're going to obviously do the best that they can. How they look at me? I don't know. I've been around them, and both of them are great people. But obviously I don't have the same relationship with them as I did with Dr. Buss, so I don't know how they view me.

"I do think that they know how wearing that purple and gold, being a member of their family, that Laker family, is an important issue and I think they'll look at that and consider that as well."

Might Bryant be quietly pushing for Scott like the late Dr. Buss may have if he were still around?

"I have no idea, to be honest with you," Scott said. "That's something that Kobe and I don't talk about. We talk about basketball."

And soon enough, they may not have to pick up a phone to have these basketball chats.

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