Let’s just make our peace with this now. With Shaquille O’Neal officially joining the media and his soon to be released book being leaked it is clear that all those topics we’ve all grown tired of are going to keep living on. Now just because most of what Shaq says, or writes, or has written for him, is meant to get attention doesn’t mean there isn’t something there.
From the second the Lakers hired Mike Brown I was highly skeptical that he could handle Kobe Bryant given the way he babied LeBron James. Some of the passages being leaked from Shaq’s book echo that sentiment.
In his book Shaq points out an incident during his time in Cleveland that speaks to how Brown dealt with James. In the book Shaq states that during a film session Coach Brown was calling out everyone else except LeBron. That has led Shaq to wonder what the means as far as how Coach Brown will deal with calling out Kobe.
“I’m not sure if Kobe is going to listen to Mike Brown. LeBron never really did. Here’s what we do know: Kobe will definitely be in charge…. “
First let’s get a couple of things clear. Kobe, like all successful athletes, has an ego. Not saying he’s a diva just saying that he sees things his way because they have worked in the past. Bryant has got a Clint Eastwood of rings. He’s not living off premature hype like the self-proclaimed king was. Bryant’s hype is the real deal. So for Brown his task is going to be the difficult dilemma of making this team his while simultaneously sharing the franchise with Bryant.
Another thing that differs Kobe from LeBron is the fact that he wants to win above all else. Not trying to make LeBron out to be more focused on style over substance but unless it meant getting another banner Bryant would never even consider going on primetime to announce any decision. Again, this is something Coach Brown dealt with in Cleveland that will not be present in Los Angeles.
All that being said we’re still talking about one of the most headstrong individuals to ever play the game. Simultaneously a strength and a weakness, Kobe’s desire to do things his way only yield one of two results – wild success or epic failure. It is that very nature that makes Bryant a much difference beast than LeBron. Whereas LeBron fears failure like Indy does snakes, Kobe embraces the opportunity to walk that fine line between dreams and nightmares.
Getting Kobe to dial it down a notch from time to time is going to be Brown’s most difficult task by far. If Kobe was willing to blow off Phil Jackson from time to time than what does that say about what Mike Brown can expect?
Another point that Shaq makes relates to the fact that the Lakers, well Jim Buss really, totally ignored Brian Shaw for the coaching job. According to Shaq, Shaw was the only man in the organization with enough stones to stand up to both him and a then KB8. That just further explains why Bryant was so quiet once Brown was announced as the Lakers’ new coach.
Overall Brown has plenty on his plate no thanks to the lockout. He’s a smart enough guy to know whose team this is. However he’s got to be aware enough to realize that taking the same approach with Kobe as he did LeBron is a recipe for disaster.
No matter what any player says, coaches are vital in winning titles. If the Lake Show is going to keep on rolling, then it will need a strong voice in the locker room to lead the charge.
Of the many things Shaq has said that could be considered controversial or driven by ego this is one that I couldn’t agree more with him on. Coach Brown has to prove he isn’t a pushover. He needs to show some spine when it comes to managing not only Kobe but all the strong personalities in the Laker locker room. Otherwise we could be looking at another coaching change should Brown prove ineffective in controlling his players.