Almost a year after he was a casualty in the Cleveland Cavaliers effort to re-sign LeBron James, former Cavs coach Mike Brown has been hired as Phil Jackson‘s replacement as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The hiring of Brown to coach basketball’s most famous team will surely raise some eyebrows. He doesn’t bring the star power to the sidelines that Jackson or former Lakers coach Pat Riley did, and many people are under the assumption that Brown simply road James’ coattails to the NBA Finals in 2007, and the best records in the NBA in both 2008-09 and 2009-10.
However, those assumptions, are simply untrue. Brown is one of the best- if not the best- defensive minds in basketball today. I’m talking on par with Tom Thibodeau good. He’s also aware that defense is his strength as a coach, and isn’t afraid to delegate offensive duties to other coaches, as he did with John Kuester in 2008-09. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kuester on the Lakers’ sideline once he’s fired by the Detroit Pistons after the lockout.
And then there’s LeBron. The fact that the Lakers, the highest profile team in the league (and arguably sports) chose Brown to replace Jackson, who has more NBA Titles than any coach in NBA history, says as much about Brown as it does the player that ran him out of town a year ago. James ignored Brown’s demands as a coach, particularly on the offensive end, often reverting to the LeIso, which translates to five guys standing around watching LeBron take a bad shot as the shot clock winds down. One could argue that it should be on Brown to control and discipline his superstar, but you also have to remember that James’ lack of commitment to the Cavs never really made this an option.
I’m rooting for Brown to succeed in L.A. I always liked him and I think he got a raw deal in Cleveland. He didn’t deserve to be fired, but it’s what gave the Cavs the best chance to re-sign LeBron (if they even had one at all).
It will be interesting to see how Kobe Bryant, who’s either real friends or fake friends with LeBron, receives Brown, but if I’m Bryant, I’m careful about how I treat a man who was just as essential to the Malice in the Palace as Ron Artest was.