Mike Brown was introduced as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. If you didn’t know that, or knew but weren’t particularly enthused about the whole event – fear not, nobody else cared either.
The fact that only one player -- Matt Barnes -- opted to attend the “big” unveiling is as telling a sign of the excitement surrounding this hire as anything could be.
Now, to be fair, maybe some of the buzz that one would generally receive when being named as the new head coach of the biggest show in town was lessened by the looming NBA Finals that were scheduled to tip off three hours later. Or, maybe, everyone had already aired out their thoughts and frustrations in the 48-hour span between which Brown was rumored to be the frontrunner to fill the Phil Jackson-sized hole within the Lakers organization, and the moment that the Lakers confirmed that the two parties struck a deal (+1 for social media).
Nevertheless, it’s quite apparent that, at best, people aren’t sure what to expect out of Brown (and at worst, they hate him). His press conference did little to ease concerns, as it simply re-affirmed that he lacks the gravitas to really captivate the easily impressionable Los Angeles crowd in the way a head coach in this city should.
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This has been said on countless occasions, but it’s worth repeating: the Lakers coaching job is essentially a juggling act of traditional Xs and Os duties and management of the personalities, expectations and egos that are commonplace in L.A.
Brown, for his part, has proven that he’s a solid coach. A Coach of the Year award, one Finals appearance and a 272-138 career mark is nothing to blow your nose at. And, for what it’s worth, he did kind of, sort of keep LeBron James in check until, you know, he got fired.
But in that same time span, Brown has also earned a “dull” tag that he will have an undoubtedly tough time shaking. Everything about this guy is boring. He stresses defense first, he’s not particularly personable and he comes off as a bit of a pushover. His most egregious crime, though, was that he could not tailor an exciting offense around arguably the most physically gifted specimen in the history of the NBA.
I mean, if you can’t design a fun-to-watch offense around the uber athletic LeBron, you’re going to have trouble selling a crowd that’s watched Kobe Bryant's Showtime Part Deux for the last 15 years (alright, 10 years).
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Kobe, by the way, did this guy no favors. By not immediately coming out and giving his blessing of the Brown hire, the former MVP and -- still reigning king of L.A. -- opened all parties involved up to massive media scrutiny and criticism. There was no more awkward moment to be a Lakers fan than to hear that Brown spoke with his superstar via “texts” on that initial ESPN broadcast where he did his first interview as the new unofficial coach.
The technical side of things will find a way to work itself out. That’s the beauty of a veteran-laden squad, the intelligence that comes with years of experience and seeing an assortment of offense/defenses. The hard part, though, will be getting the players and fans to buy into Brown as the new leading man of the hottest show in town. If he doesn’t win the hearts and minds of all parties involved, the media will eat him alive before he can even impart his defensive wisdom on the team.
Lakers Land, as of now, is dubious about this hire. Brown will either silence the critics, or he’ll get swallowed whole by the pressure.
Only time will tell.