Mike Brown can spin it any way he wants. We all know Brown’s decision to keep Kobe Bryant seated while the Lakers were gored by the Grizzlies had everything to do with his desire to wean the team off their dependence on Bryant. From day one Brown has stated that he wants to make Andrew Bynum the focal point of the offense. Everything runs through the big man.
Problem is the big man, at times, acts like a big baby. Bryant has his shortcomings, many of which have been on display this year. More often than not Kobe has reverted to his old ways with those trust issues surfacing in big moments. But that wasn’t the case a couple weeks ago when Bryant deferred to Bynum. And chances are that wouldn’t have been the case last night when Bryant had only attempted 14 shots prior to his benching.
Kobe knows Bynum holds the hopes of a title. That’s why he’s bringing his young big along slowly. But Brown wants a more advanced schedule. It is all part of the secret war being waged in Lakerland.
Brown will tell you that he was just looking for the right combination of players at a key moment in the game. Common sense will tell you that every possible combination of players for the Lakers will always include Kobe.
So what was Brown really trying to prove?
Whatever it was his timing couldn’t have been worse. The time to make this move was weeks ago when Bryant was shooting the team into some sad losses to lowly teams. Not when they’re playing against a potential playoff foe. Not when they’re riding the Ramon Session express.
Unfortunately this is not unusual for Brown. His heavy dependence on Bryant early in the season helped set the stage for many of Mamba’s meltdowns this year. If you’ve seen this team throughout the year then you know there have been a few occasions in which a cold Kobe has overlooked a hot Bynum.
Last night Bynum was rolling, again, while Kobe was unusually silent. In many ways Kobe was deferring to his center throughout the game. Brown was seeing his vision of the offense come into view. Then he got greedy. He sought to prove his theories on winning with Bynum could be proven in the clutch. He was proven wrong and though Bryant won’t admit to it he’s none too happy with his coach.
Mike Brown was always in an impossible situation. No human being can replace Phil Jackson. No coach on the planet can control the strong willed nature of Kobe Bryant. However Brown can control how many minutes his players get on a given night. Thus far he’s failed miserably at finding consistent rotations for his team. If his latest experiment with benching Kobe is any indication then Brown has learned little from all the backlash he’s received this season. No telling what it will take to change things but I’m guessing going at it without Kobe in late game situations isn’t the right approach.