Sadness and dismay loomed over Los Angeles the day Phil Jackson and his 13 championship rings walked through retirement's door. The air was knocked from Los Angeles' stomach, the wind robbed from her sails and the bounce taken from its step. Zen was no more.
The City of Angels became a City of Wails as its future seemingly tailspinned out of control. Parades and champagne were replaced with shadows and clouds, thunderstorms and darkness.
As if the grim reaper did not have enough laughs, Shaw was unexpectedly terminated in shady fashion, paving the way for a new coaching era in L.A.
In a blur of shocking events, Mike Brown became the chosen successor to Phil Jackson, creating an atmosphere of surprise and disappointment.
Phil Jackson certainly left behind some large shoes to fill, but Coach Brown? Coach Mike Brown as the king's successor?
You've got to be kiddin' me!
While last year's outcome certainly garnered mixed opinions, Brown's choices and direction during the season-long journey were questionable at best.
Yes, Andrew Bynum flourished and became an All-Star for the first time under Brown's direction, but at what expense?
Pau Gasol, a key ingredient in the Lakers' 2008-2010 championship run, became the third option behind Kobe Bryant and Bynum. The results were a disaster of sorts, as Andrew brought his A-game only half of the time, and Gasol disappeared altogether.
Friction between the players and coach became prevalent as Metta World Peace and Brown took jabs at each other through the media.
Andrew Bynum lost all respect for Brown at one point, refusing to join team huddles because he was "getting his zen on," as he later explained it (per Matt Moore of CBSSports.com). After being benched for his shocking three-point attempt, Bynum later said he would '"continue to launch open three-pointers" (per Matt Moore of CBSSports.com).
There were even reports that the team had grown distraught with their new coach's offensive sets and wanted to resort back to Phil Jackson's triangle offense during games.
As a matter of fact, Brown's offense was so horrific that the Lakers were at one point averaging the franchise's lowest per-game point total (94) since before the advent of the 24-second shot clock in 1954-55.
For a coach who prides himself and his team on defense and toughness, the Lakers only finished 15th in overall defense. That's not very impressive by any stretch of the imagination, especially for the Lakers, who feature two seven-foot towers in Gasol and Bynum.
Coach Brown tried to avoid any run-ins with the captain and face of the franchise, Kobe Bryant. The result was problematic at times.
While Kobe has been brilliant throughout his career, we often witnessed Bryant doing too much last season. A lot of it can be attributed to the ball being in his hands with three seconds on the shot clock (blame that on Mike Brown's offensive schematics).
Kobe was also guilty of attempting to take over games and forgetting about the team.
This happened far too often due to Coach Brown's inability to tell Bryant when enough was enough.
The biggest concern going forward is how Steve Nash will be integrated into the Lakers' lineup. While his playmaking and scoring should propel the Lakers to new heights this coming season, last year showed that Mike Brown simply does not have what it takes to manage an NBA offense.
Even Magic Johnson took notice, and could not have said it any better (per T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times):
"I'm really not tough on Mike Brown," Magic said. "I just want Mike to do a better job."
"I like Mike Brown. I thought the defense since Mike came here has improved. But I don't like a 7-footer out on the perimeter when we have the advantage down low. I have to point that out. And the Lakers don't lose in the first round; that's not who we are."
It does not take a rocket scientist, or even Magic for that matter, to realize that Coach Brown's excuses (lack of training camp and terrible offensive play) only served as decoys to deflect responsibility from the one who truly deserves the burden of blame: himself.
Should he continue his erroneous ways, he will be forced to answer to the likes of the Busses, Kupchaks and Los Angeles in general.
And, if he hasn't learned already, he will certainly get the hint when Jerry Buss' steel-pointed toe lands on the most sensitive area of Brown's behind, which could be his friendly way of hollering for a coaching change.
See, in Los Angeles we don't put up with playoff eliminations and disappointments, as Cleveland did. Welcome to the big boy's league.
So, unless you can get your act together, Mr. Brown, there's a replacement here waiting for you who will certainly fill your role, plus some, with ease:
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