It's official. Phil Jackson will not be back as the Los Angeles Lakers head coach for the 2011-12 season.
When the Lakers front office began the search for a new head coach in Los Angeles, numerous names were thrown around. Lakers long time assistant coach Brian Shaw appeared to be the original front-runner.
Former Houston Rockets coach Rick Adelman was mentioned often throughout the search. Current TNT color commentator Jeff Van Gundy, Cavaliers coach Byron Scott, former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, and Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person were all mentioned throughout the Lakers coaching search as well.
At the end of the process though, one name was chosen by the Lakers front office to lead the Lakers on the court in the future: Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown.
Brown, who finished with an overall record of 272-138 in his five seasons with the Cavaliers, has a knack for being successful, and more importantly, winning. He's also dealt with superstar players before, as he coached LeBron James in Cleveland while the two helped the Cavaliers lead the league in wins for two consecutive years with 66 wins in the 2008-09 season and 61 wins in the 2009-10 season.
For those that may not know much about Brown besides the fact that he was the former Cavaliers coach, Brown was also an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio from 2000-03 and applies many of the same ideas and defensive emphasis that Popovich has applied during his stint with the Spurs.
"Mike Brown is a great coach," said former Cavaliers player LeBron James, per ESPN.com. "He brought us success that we hadn't had before in that city (Cleveland), and it started with his defensive concepts. He brought in a defensive mindset that we didn't have. Fifty-plus wins, he was coach of the year, he got us to the (NBA) Finals, won us the Eastern Conference finals ... because of him and his coaching staff. I respect him. He definitely helped me become who I am today."
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will turn 33 years old in August and considering his age, this is likely the last coach of his playing career.
I don't know if the average NBA fan realized the significance of this hiring because if Kobe Bryant is going to make a run at winning his sixth NBA title, good enough to tie the iconic Michael Jordan, the Lakers had to make the right choice when selecting their next head coach to succeed Phil Jackson.
While it seems as if a majority of NBA Lakers fans are not exactly confident in the Lakers' decision to hire Mike Brown, I can tell you this much: Mike Brown was a solid selection.
Despite the fact that Brown's stint with the Cavaliers was his only past head coaching gig, he had a .663 winning percentage in his five years in Cleveland. He also had a playoff record of 42-29 while in Cleveland and led the Cavaliers to the 2007 NBA Finals as well as the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.
Considering Lakers management made it clear that they were more than interested in planning to basically ditch the triangle offense that Jackson had run over the last decade, Mike Brown was a great choice for that reason as well.
Throughout the course of the 2010-11 NBA season, the Lakers as a team frequently looked bored and complacent. Even in the playoffs, the Lakers continued to look old, bored and complacent.
While Mike Brown can't rewind the clock of time and make the Lakers players younger on the court, he can provide a new energy and buzz in the Lakers locker room. Brown is a passionate coach who coaches with a fire in him and will change the atmosphere in Los Angeles for the better.
So Lakers fans, don't fret. This was a good hire for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Brown will run something other than an offense exclusively based on the triangle, he will apply his defensive concepts from day one and make sure the Lakers consistently play good defense. As mentioned before, he has experience coaching superstar players and personalities as well.
As Mike Brown, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers prepare for the 2011-12 NBA season, I would tell Lakers fans one thing after this hiring: Continue to have high expectations.
If Brown led the Cavaliers to more wins (66) in 2009 with just LeBron James than the Miami Heat had in 2011 (58) with LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, lets see what Brown can do with a Lakers roster that has a plethora of talent, highlighted by the likes of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.