Here in Los Angeles, you better win championships if you want your tenure in Purple and Gold to be “successful.”
It’s the golden standard. No Laker that spent most of their playing time in L.A. has that “great player, but no rings” stigma attached to them. All of the Lakers’ Hall of Famers don’t have to deal with the pain of never winning a title.
Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the list goes on and on.
Every year, the Lakers fan base has a “championship or bust” mentality.
So it shouldn’t shock you that Mike Brown’s first season — which obviously hasn’t resulted in a title — is widely considered a failure, and people are still popping out their #FireMikeBrown Twitter hashtags. The Lakers fan base places the blame squarely on Brown for this team losing to Oklahoma City.
But is this movement to fire Brown really all that merited? Is it a valid reason to fire Mike Brown yesterday?
Let me rephrase that: Is it fair to fire Mike Brown because the Lakers lost to a superior team in the Oklahoma City Thunder despite exceeding expectations in three out of the five games?
You should see where I’m going with this by now. Because, no, it isn’t fair to call for Mike Brown’s head. Because we’re not giving Brown a fair chance; had this been any other coach, one that we all approved of (and many Laker fans were pretty pissed when this hire was announced), the coach wouldn’t be hearing these kinds of calls for his firing. The Lakers were eliminated in a more inspiring and respectable manner than they were last year, yet no one asked for Phil Jackson to be fired and many still want Jackson back, yet can’t stand Mike Brown, situation be damned.
No one seems to understand that, of the teams still left in the playoffs, only one has had to deal with something remotely close to what Mike Brown has: Doug Collins.
It should be noted that this Laker team had about two weeks to implement a totally new system, after the Lakers brass eliminated the triangle offense as Phil Jackson retired. Since 1999, Phil Jackson’s triangle has been implemented every year except one. Kobe Bryant grew up with this offense, as did Andrew Bynum. Pau Gasol doesn’t seem to know what to do in any other offense (not yet, hopefully?). The three core members of this team had two weeks to learn an offensive system, while the coach was forced to screw around with rotations and offensive adjustments in season!
Yet, Laker fans seem to forget that.
And they also forget that, if we’re totally honest, this team is lacking in sufficient talent. Outside of Andrew Bynum, Kobe and Pau Gasol, there really hasn’t been any consistent presence. It’s not one of those “who is going to step up tonight?” kind of things. It’s one of those, “What the hell, everyone except our Big 3 sucks” kind of things.
Steve Blake, Jordan Hill, Josh McRoberts, Troy Murphy, Jason Kapono, Devin Ebanks, Andrew Goudelock, Matt Barnes, Metta World Peace, Darius Morris. Save for World Peace (who is still shoddy offensively, mind you), none of those names probably break the rotation in any of the remaining teams in the playoffs, and they sure as hell won’t play a major role off the bench of any playoff team period.
Yet, Steve Blake had started at one point, Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy were the only big-man options Brown had at his disposal, Andrew Goudelock was the only 2-guard that could relieve Kobe Bryant of his minutes, and Matt Barnes was bumped out of the rotation in the playoffs.
Yet, Mike Brown gets all the blame. Well, OK, Laker fans.
For a good chunk of the series against OKC, Mike Brown did a hell of a job combating Oklahoma City’s explosive offense by forcing them into a half-court set, something they aren’t totally comfortable with. Mistakes by a certain Laker superstar that receives $28 million a year (we’re not naming names here) helped to hurt L.A.’s chances of putting together an improbable upset, despite the fact that we knew OKC was simply just better.
(When you can hold a team like OKC to 77 points, there’s no reason you don’t deserve to win, but people want to blame Brown for his apparent “inability” to reel in his superstar, who is known to have a major ego problem.)
The solution here is obvious: Give Mike Brown a year. Not a half-ass, lockout-shortened year. We’re talking an entire summer with training camp that lasts longer than the milk in your refrigerator, to go along with four preseason games and plenty of rest during the season.
So the notion of the Lakers’ front office canning Brown? Let’s not discuss this anymore.
When we start having this discussion in 2013, then I’ll listen. Until then, give Brown a chance.