Mike Brown has not won the big one yet, but his .663 regular season winning percentage ranks him 5th all time (minimum 400 games), and his .592 playoff winning percentage ranks him 10th in NBA history (minimum 25 games). Photo by Jason Lewis
Mike Brown has a lot to live up to as the Lakers head coach, like 16 NBA championships, 11 of which were won here in Los Angeles. Photo by Jason Lewis
Brown is not a fan favorite yet, but he brings a lot of wins with him to Los Angeles.
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
The sky fell when the Dallas Mavericks swept the Lakers out of the playoffs, and judging by the negative reactions to the hiring of new head coach Mike Brown, it seems as if the sky has fallen again.
The Brown hiring is a lackluster one, but really looking at it, outside of convincing Mike Krzyzewski to leave Duke, or prying Doc Rivers away from the Boston Celtics, any coaching hire by the Lakers was going to be received with moans and groans from the media and fan base.
Rick Alelman would not have made anybody feel like the Lakers were going to make a title run next year. Jeff Van Gundy would not have moved the dial. And would anybody be thrilled to see Mike Dunleavy return as the Lakers head coach?
Brown was not high on any list that were floating around, and many have questioned his coaching abilities, or lack there of. But there is no question that he is a winner.
Brown’s .663 regular season winning percentage ranks him 5th all time (minimum 400 games), and his .592 playoff winning percentage ranks him 10th in NBA history (minimum 25 games).
The only thing that Brown has not won as a head coach is the NBA championship.
While with the Cleveland Cavaliers, coaching LeBron James, Brown came up short in the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs in 2007, and his Cavs lost in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009 to the Orlando Magic.
Brown twice led the Cavs to 60+ wins in a season, and to the best record in the league during both of those years.
Brown has championship experience as a coach, winning the NBA championship in 2003 with the Spurs as an assistant coach.
Even with Brown’s résumé, he has not been viewed as a coach who can lead the Lakers to the title.
Now that Brown has signed a four-year, $18.25 million contract, the first order of business was to do more than send text messages to Kobe Bryant. He was finally able to catch up with the Lakers superstar so the two of them could get on the same page.
“Kobe and I talked about a lot of things,” Brown said. “We talked about family. We talked about last year, the team. He wanted to know what I had in store, in mind, going forward on both sides of the ball and what my beliefs are. I thought that the meeting in person as well as the conversations on the phone went very well.”
Next up for Brown is figuring out offensive and defensive strategies. From the looks of it he will be ditching the triangle for the most part and look to push the ball up the court at a faster pace.
“We’re not going to run the triangle offense, but we will have bits and pieces of it to incorporate,” Brown said.
Brown said that the Lakers offense will emphasize big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in a similar fashion that the Spurs did with David Robinson and a young Tim Duncan. Brown was an assistant with the Spurs when Robinson and Duncan played together.
Even with an offense that goes inside more, Brown made it clear who the focal point of the offense will be.
“This is still his team,” Brown said. “Kobe is Kobe. He has five titles and is one of the greatest ever. His role will not change. We’ll make sure he’ll have the ball in the sweet spots he likes to have it.”
Brown has been known as more of a defensive expert, as the Cavs had one of the top defenses in the league during his tenure there. He does not appear to be changing his tune, as he wants the Lakers to shrink the floor and not give up drives.
The Lakers seemed like they were not too interested in playing defense during the playoffs, so a new approach may be just what they need.
One point that Brown made, which may be his biggest challenge, is that it is not only about X’s and O’s, but also about managing star players. The Lakers have more than enough talent to win a championship, but when a team loses, it is not always because of poor strategy.
Brown may not have won the title, yet, but he has never had a roster this talented. Seeing that he took a one man Cavs team to the NBA Finals once and Eastern Conference Finals twice, he should be able to do better with a very talented Lakers team.
Or maybe that one man, LeBron James, really took Brown deep into the playoffs, and all the critics are right. Only time will tell, but for right now, this is far from a bad hire because Brown is a proven winner.
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