One win and four losses. 1-4. 20% wins. Just barely not winless. Many ways to explain how the Los Angeles Lakers have started the 2012-13 NBA season. In a market that has been as spoiled with greatness as L.A., at least on the Lakers end, and with such a blockbuster off-season for the Lakers, starting 1-4 was unacceptable. Heads had to roll, and it wasn’t going to be blamed on GM Mitch Kupchak, if you believe that bringing in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard was the right move. Mike Brown is now the scapegoat for a team of veterans that may still need time to mesh.
Considered by many in basketball to be a defensive genius, Mike Brown is now without a job. Getting his first break with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005, he lasted as their head coach till 2010. in 2011, Brown was asked to fill the shoes of Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson after he retired from coaching. Brown has a stellar 314-167 career record as a head coach. But, he also has been the coach of two teams with some of the greatest players of this era on them. He couldn’t make it over the hump with LeBron in Cleveland and he stumbled out of the gate with the Kobe, Nash, Gasol and Dwight in Los Angeles.
Why so quickly though? 5 games is certainly not enough to get a picture of your team’s abilities and to let 3 veterans playing together for the first time gel. Look at the Miami Heat in 2010 when they started out with a mediocre 9-8 record even with three of the top 15-20 players in the NBA. 9-8 is not 1-4, but the same theory applies, these are three players that need time to adjust. Regardless, there are 2 reasons why Mike Brown was fired, and they go hand in hand.
1. Mike Brown ran the Princeton offense. I have seen some NBA personalities mention that the Princeton offense uses some themes from the Triangle offense, which was run to such great success in L.A. by Phil Jackson. However, having similar themes does not mean the two offense are going to be as successful as each other, especially with teams that have a different roster. It is an offense that emphasizes passing at the expense of time management. It is used to keep games closer by allowing less possessions for each team. It is also generally used by teams with less athletic talent than their opposition to make up for the disadvantage, surely not an aspect that the Lakers roster had to contend with. This offense was never a fit for the star-laden Lakers who could take advantage of a great post presence from Dwight and Pau and a fantastic pick and roll game run by Steve Nash and the quality big men. Mike Brown decided to force a square peg into a round hole at the expense of the Lakers’ early season record and at the expense of his job.
2. This team wouldn’t have stayed bad for long and Mike Brown being fired wouldn’t have been defensible for long. GM Mitch Kupchak and Owner Jerry Buss were already looking for a fresh start after last year’s Lakers team failed to make it to the finals. They did what they had to do to get this fresh start with personnel by bringing in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. But, the old coach still remained and he was due $4.5 million over the next two seasons with an option for a fourth year. The Lakers brass needed an excuse to eat that money, and starting 1-4 was just the excuse they needed. If they had waited till mid-season, it is very likely that this roster would have hit their stride and been reeling off winning streaks, which would have made firing Mike Brown nearly impossible to defend.
The Lakers did what they had to do here, for better or worse. They were tired of Mike Brown, and Kobe likely was too or this never happens. They are now in search of a new head man in L.A. But who is out there? Who would take a job with such little security? Stay tuned to find out.