The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly offered Mike Brown their head coaching position. And I haven’t stopped laughing since I heard the news.
Going from Phil Jackson to Mike Brown is like going from lobster to Lucky Charms. Sure, Lucky Charms has some redeeming qualities (in Brown’s case, a defensive pedigree that helped make Lebron a two-way player; in Lucky Charms’ case, marshmallows), but the cereal certainly isn’t lobster. You can’t dip it in butter and feel like you’re entering heaven as soon as it touches your lips. You don’t ask your mother for Lucky Charms on your birthday meal. You don’t buy Lucky Charms if you’re trying to coax another (or more) championships out of the Kobe Bryant Era. Because to put the pieces back together from that quickly-sunken ship, the Lakers are going to need a lot more than “Iso Kobe.”
One of my biggest problems with the NBA is that the same coaches get head coaching jobs, over and over again, no matter how many times they fail. Vinny Del Negro proved himself to have no set offense, no discipline on either end of the court, got into a fight with a Chicago front office executive, and all that afforded him the opportunity to coach Blake Griffin. The New Orleans Hornets couldn’t run Byron Scott out of town quickly enough (remember the 58-point playoff shellacking?) and his trips to the Eastern Conference Finals were a very distant memory by the time Cleveland offered him its skipper position. Mike Dunleavy still gets mentioned for a number of openings, even though he coached the Clippers like a hockey-playing father might coach an 8th-grade CYO team. Meanwhile, Frank Vogel can’t get a job guarantee after turning around the Pacers, and Tom Thibodeau couldn’t become a head coach until he was 52 years old.
So now Mike Brown, whose offense has always been less imaginative than cardboard, looks like he will get the chance to coach the Los Angeles Lakers. Never mind that Brown earned the scorn of every analyst in the country, even while leading Cleveland to two straight imaginary regular season championships. Never mind that the Lakers will go from running the triangle offense to running “get the hell out of Kobe’s way.” Never mind that I woke up this morning and crossed Los Angeles off for next season just because they’re ready to hire Brown. Never mind all that: the Lakers have their man.
And I still don’t get it. Why hire Brown, who has proven he has a ceiling, when you could give Brian Shaw a chance? Why hire Brown when Elston Turner has impressed everyone he’s ever worked with in Houston? Why hire Brown, or anyone else who has failed (and yes, Brown failed in Cleveland, even with all those regular season wins), when there are talented assistant coaches who may turn into the next Tom Thibodeau? If the Lakers hired Brown because fans will recognize his name, well, it’s not like we associate his name with greatness—in part, we recognize his name because teams run better offense than his in pickup basketball. If the Lakers hired Brown because he’s cheap, well, Shaw wouldn’t have been the most expensive candidate either. Plus, a bunch of Lakers already backed Shaw publicly.
Instead, Brown gets another chance. The recycling continues, giving the same jobs to the same flawed coaches, an incestuous cycle that leaves talented assistants waiting in the background. In all fairness, the Lakers could have done worse than Brown. If they had decided to choose a lifelong assistant instead, they could have hired the next John Kuester just as easily as the next Thibodeau. But they could have done better, too. Brown isn’t lobster.
Oh, well. Not even Mike Brown can screw up a Dwight Howard-Kobe Bryant pairing.
“Dwight, get the hell out of Kobe’s way. We’re running iso!”
On second thought, maybe he can.