The Los Angeles Lakers surprised many around the basketball universe by hiring former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown to replace Phil Jackson. While in Cleveland, Brown led the Cavs to the 2007 NBA Finals, two appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals and two 60-plus win seasons. So how will the hiring of Brown impact Kobe Bryant's Legacy?
Bryant is entering his 15th season in the NBA with a chip on his shoulder, although he is a 13-time All-Star, 9-time All-NBA First Team Selection, 2-time NBA Finals MVP and has 5 rings. The Black Mamba's legacy is already cemented as one of the greatest of all-times but the way his career finishes will be pivotal to how he ultimately measures up to Michael Jordan.
Brown will bring a sense of toughness to the Lakers that Bryant hasn't seen since his 1999-2000 team that only gave up 92.3 points per game. In 2003 with Brown as their assistant coach, the San Antonio Spurs gave up a stingy 90.4 points per game on their way to an NBA crown. In 2004 he assumed the same position with the Indiana Pacers and transformed their defense to one of the best in the league. Brown was successful in Cleveland because of the same blueprint. Sounds like a good fit for Bryant, who has been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team nine times.
Brown's defensive wizardry will transform talented big men like Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom into tough bigs who can also score. Mix his toughness in practice with Bryant's obsession to get better everyday on both sides of the ball and you get a very talented, veteran, defensive-minded team that has arguably the best one-on-one player on the planet. That sounds very reminiscent of a Chicago Bulls team that won three straight titles during the end of Jordan's prime.
This season teams with up-tempo styles caused problems for the Lakers because they lacked focus and dedication to stop opponents on a consistent basis. With the acquisition of Brown, one of the most respected defensive minds in the game, that will soon change. The only thing left for Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak to do is to acquire a defensive specialist that can give the Lakers 27.5 points and 15.5 boards every night. A center that goes my the name of "Super Man", the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard. Add the 3-time reigning NBA Defensive Player of The Year to the puzzle and you create the path to the perfect ending for the legacy of Kobe Bean Bryant.