These days the term job security is an oxymoron when it comes to NBA coaches. Teams that are rebuilding aren’t even patient enough to let new hires make it through an entire season. So if that is the case then Mike Brown knows he’s on the hot seat without even coaching his first game in Los Angeles.
Brown inherited a job where coaches can become legends. The names Pat Riley and Phil Jackson are as iconic as Magic Johnson or Kobe Bryant. That is what the Lakers job means. But it comes at a cost.
For every Riles and PJ that succeeds there is a Randy Pfund or a Rudy Tomjanovic that just couldn’t make it happen in the City of Angels.
Brown was already fighting an uphill battle not even Dig Dug would envy by simply sitting in Jackson’s seat. Now the NBA lockout is making his coaching mole hill into a mountain.
Already lost are countless hours that should have been spent practicing and building camaraderie. That can never be replaced. The X’s and O’s of coaching are one thing but on the professional level it takes much more for a coach to succeed.
While no Laker has spoken out against the hiring of Coach Brown, plenty were none too pleased when Brian Shaw was overlooked and subsequently dismissed. That alone is a hurdle that must be overcome in order for the team to progress under a new regime. Brown needs to win his locker room over. In addition he’s got to help reconstruct a weathered bridge between the players and management.
In the wake of last season’s unceremonious end the winds of change blew though the Lakers’ offices in El Segundo. Gone were some employees that had dedicated a healthy chunk of their adult lives to the Purple and Gold. Also lost with those dismissals was the trust that took years to establish.
Now it is on Brown to get things back on track and rebound. However the lockout isn’t doing him any favors.
Unable to communicate with his players, I’m sure Brown and his coaches have grown tired of watching game tape. Just like the men they teach, coaches need action too.
Another element that becomes more dangerous to Brown’s job security is the ever heightened expectations. The entire hoops world knows that the current Lakers are on their last legs. This season was already looking like a do-or-die deal. With an again Kobe, a crazier than ever Metta World Peace and an up-and-down Andrew Bynum the lingering issues only worsen with each day.
Simply put Brown will be expected to win almost immediately. As unfair as it is to compare him to PJ, Brown must face the fact that Jackson won in his first season at the Laker helm. All it took was one offseason for Jackson to gain control of the locker room. The problem for Brown is that he doesn’t have the benefit of building relationships and establishing control during those hard working days prior to the NBA regular season.
For all we know it could be an entire calendar year until Brown makes his debut at the end of the bench in Los Angeles. Should that be the case then he’ll once again have to face the fact that his tasks are changing as quickly as the various head coaches around the league.
Job security is measured only in how much ownership backs you. Right now Brown has full support from ownership but that could easily change if his team fails to respond in a timely manner once the lockout is lifted. Nobody ever said being an NBA coach was easy. It’s just that there is no chapter in the book of shot calling on how to handle an aging roster with championship aspirations during a work stoppage. On the bright side this situation provides Brown with the chance to accomplish something that could make him legendary. It also gets him one step closer to a pink slip and hoops irrelevancy.