Shortly before the Los Angeles Lakers kicked off their 2012-13 season against the Dallas Mavericks, Vincent Bonsignore of the LA Daily News talked about the immense pressure head coach Mike Brown was sure to face this season.
With future Hall of Famer Steve Nash and All-Star center Dwight Howard joining Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in the starting lineup, there is really no reason why the Lakers should not be the best team in the Western Conference.
Instead, Brown now finds himself in a quick 0-2 hole as his new-look team has lost to a Dallas Mavericks team sans Dirk Nowitzki and a Portland Trail Blazers squad entering a rebuilding mode. Just as soon as the Lakers' potentially dream season began, it is now in just as much danger of ending prematurely.
Simply put, Brown needs to dig his team out of this hole, as anything less than a trip to the Western Conference finals will probably be seen as a failure in the eyes of the L.A. fans. He has the tools to get that far and more, but if he can't get the Lakers to unite and start playing as a cohesive unit, he could be looking at a major strike against him career-wise.
Keep in mind that Brown's reputation as a coach is well-known and not exactly rosy. Bonsignore writes that Brown normally has a controlling nature and is a stickler for practicing, though he has loosened up a bit this year. While commendable for the drive behind it, his is a system that could potentially cause veteran players with plenty of playoff experience to become unhappy.
Still, the veteran Lakers are not the young LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers team with whom Brown gained his first head coaching experience in 2005. In six seasons there, Brown went 313-163 and went to the postseason every year, even losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals.
However, it was Brown's controlling nature that may have come back to bite him in 2010, as the Cavaliers fired him after the top-seeded Cavs lost to the Boston Celtics in the conference semis, supposedly because James was unhappy with his coach.
That all being said, Brown needs to keep with his new, laid-back approach, noted by Bonsignore. Unlike he did in Cleveland, he now has an experienced Lakers team that won two championships without him and doesn't need to revamp its style completely.
Long story short, all he has to do is let his players play.
If he can't right the ship soon and get the Los Angeles machine running, however, he will basically be sunk as a coach. Win-loss record aside, if the Lakers underachieve this year, Brown will be blackballed as a coach who has good ideas but simply can't handle superstars.
Granted, the Lakers' season is only two games old, and there is plenty of time for them to turn things around, but that's not the point. The fact is that Brown has the ultimate team right in front of him, and if he can't get it to win regularly and clean house with the competition, then he might as well not be an NBA coach.