Mike Brown got fired for a lot of reasons. He was never the right guy to coach a team as star-laden as the Los Angeles Lakers, in city as championship-hungry as L.A. He didn’t have the sort of pedigree necessary to follow a legend like Phil Jackson. His personality, as nice as it was, didn’t fit the general vibe associated with the franchise.
But all of those things could have been overcome. The two main factors that ultimately did Brown in were these: 1.) the team was losing and 2.) the team was losing ugly.
You can be a boring team, so long as you win. The Shaquille O’Neal Lakers proved that. Watching Shaq dominate in the low post wasn’t exactly Showtime basketball – but everyone was okay with it because banners were being raised. You can’t be a boring team that loses, though. Through one regular season, two playoff series, one winless preseason, and one terrible five-game stretch, that’s exactly what the Lakers were. They were a boring team that lost.
That’s what ultimately cost Mike Brown his gig. And that, mind you, is why Jim Buss brought in the polar opposite of him to be the Lakers’ next coach. Mike D’Antoni wasn’t brought in because he’s a championship machine like Phil Jackson was. No, he was brought in because he gives the team a legitimate chance of winning and puts an entertaining product on the court.
For his part, D’Antoni gets it. While speaking with reporters on Thursday, he more or less acknowledged that right now the team was playing way slower than it should be playing.
"If you've got the best team, why wouldn't you play the most possessions that you can play, if you're the best defensively and offensively?" asked D'Antoni (via the Los Angeles Times). "Any time the possessions are cut down, then a bad call, missed shot, you've got a chance to lose. We keep the possessions up, to me statistically we've got a lot better chance to win when we're playing a lot of reps. That's the way we're going to try to go."
Of course, that’s easier said than done with a team as old as the Lakers.
"Age will keep it down a little bit [with] two big guys. We might go small some, that will rev it up," said D'Antoni. "There are some things we can do, but whatever comes out will be an efficient offensive team and an efficient defensive team."
Mitch Kupchak, the best executive in the NBA, seemed to agree with his new coach’s assessment.
"We have a vision of how we thought this team would play, bringing in a player like Steve Nash," said General Manager Mitch Kupchak. "We thought we could get the ball in his hands a lot, play up-tempo.
"I think Mike really said it best when he talked about the number of possessions," said Kupchak. "This league really is about the players. It's no secret when the NBA, on TV they're marketing the players and their ridiculous abilities as athletes and what they can do on the court.
"The more opportunities you give them to display their ability, which is more possessions on the defensive and offensive side, the more their true talent is going to come through," continued the Lakers general manager. "We have a great group of talented players. Let's give them the most chances to show and display their ability."
Will this new run-and-gun strategy prove to be a successful one? We’ll find out in due time. But it’s definitely going to be a fun experiment to watch.
(Kudos Los Angeles Times)