Would Firing Mike Brown Really Turn Around L.A. Lakers' Season?
Mike Brown is always simmering on the hot seat, in part because he's coached two highly watched teams of late and in part because of his facial expressions. As far-fetched as it sounds, I believe that the open-mouth squint Mike Brown does in times of trouble has hindered his job security. Closed mouth, steeling glare; job kept.
Anyway, I am not among those who think the Lakers should fire Mike Brown. If it really comes off the rails in Los Angeles, then perhaps such an assessment needs a recalibration. But I'm more inclined to believe that L.A.'s talent and roster is overvalued at Brown's expense.
Great as they are, three of L.A.'s "Big Four" are past their prime. The guy who isn't is coming off of spinal surgery. Two of the Big Four fit best at the center position. Pau Gasol does his most impressive work on the block, as a "5." In this arrangement, he is forced to guard athletic power forwards who can shoot the three.
Yes, the same thing was true back when Pau shared time with Bynum. The difference is that, in those Laker championship years, Lamar Odom came off the bench to solve matchup difficulties. This is no longer true today, as defense-deficient Antawn Jamison can't be subbed in to guard power forwards, small forwards or anyone, really.
The other issue is that Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant are used to dominating the ball. Kobe has been L.A.'s ostensible point guard for years, along with all the scoring. It's no easy task to just figure out who does what. The problem has been tabled due to Steve's shin injury, but there will be role overlap when Nash returns.
Perhaps Laker fans are fondly remembering how another coach firing went, way back in 1981. Laker coach Paul Westhead clashed with Magic Johnson and was probably fired as a result. Assistant coach Pat Riley (perhaps you've heard of him) took over and coached Los Angeles to a 50-21 record.
But the Lakers don't have Magic Johnson at age 23. They have a slightly mismatched roster of all-time greats who might not be meeting each other's acquaintance at the right time. Also, it's not as though a Pat Riley is waiting in the wings on every NBA coaching roster.
Fans clamoring to bring back Phil Jackson should remember that, a) Phil has a say in the matter and b) Phil left on the heels of a spectacular four-game-sweep flameout. There are likely no magic answers here, especially when the best coach available happens to be Dwight nemesis Stan Van Gundy.
Instead of yelling for Mike Brown's head, fans should be asking their team to help the coach out. Granted, the Lakers are capped out, but this bench is just awful. Adding Antawn Jamison exacerbates defensive issues that this team was predisposed to in the first place.
Fans and pundits would also do well to be patient. It's a long season and Dwight Howard isn't completely healthy. Defensive issues for Los Angeles can probably be fixed with a healthy Dwight. The Lakers are 1-3, not 10-30. Give it a little time before yelling for a job change in L.A.
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