Tuesday, November 13, 2012


The Lakers fired Mike Brown as Head Coach on Friday, November 9, 2012. According to the press reports, it appears that Mike Brown was a good coach. However, it apparently did not work out. I had concern about his coaching during the last season’s play offs and had expressed this concern in my earlier article below:

voices.yahoo.com/the-lakers-coach-needs-strategic-thinking-11258086.html?cat=14 … … … … …

My major concern with Mike Brown was about the strategic thinking which is required to win a Championship.  To be fair to Mike Brown, he was filling a large void left behind by Phil Jackson who in his remarkable two stints with Lakers had won five Championships.  Add these to the six Championships he won at Chicago, it is an unbelievable record of a total eleven Championships. No wonder it is a lot of pressure and stress for any new Lakers Coach. Phil Jackson did not have any such pressure when he became Head Coach at Chicago or when he came to Lakers.

As I stated in my earlier article, Mike Brown has a reputation of being an ardent Basketball lover and a highly qualified X-O type of coach. However, some times, this can also become a problem while coaching highly talented and well paid NBA players where skills in players’ ego management are equally important.  These players need a Head Coach who acts more like a Manager and is a strategic thinker who understands his players, can manage their egos constructively to inspire them to put their selfish interests aside and motivate them to play as a team. He has to have fast thinking so that in actual game situation, he can evaluate his team’s momentum and energy level to come up with right substitutions, and also study the opponents’ strategies to design the right plays to counter them. While strategies like “Princeton offense” or “Triangle” have merits they are not a requirement to win Championships.  Many coaches who have won multiple Championships by using simple pick & roll type of plays, good defense and by training their players to execute them well and by molding them into well knit teams. I am not saying that basic training in fundamentals and plays is not important but they can be handled by the qualified Assistant Coaches at the practices. Phil Jackson, though technically an average coach, is a master of managing top players’ ego and could get the best out of super stars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant to win eleven championships.

According to the news reports, it looks like that after firing Mike Brown, Lakers were talking to Phil Jackson to take over the head coaching assignment again and then with a drama more befitting a Hollywood thriller ended up signing Mike D'Antoni late last Sunday night on November 11. All this happened in a matter of just three days and after Phil Jackson’s first stint with the Lakers, this is the third time that Lakers have hired an outside person to coach this great team. I wonder why this important decision was in such a hurry. Based on his past record at Phoenix & New York, Mike D'Antoni does not appear to be much of an improvement over Mike Brown and if he does not win a Championship this season there will be panic in Lakers land all over again.

In my opinion the long term solution lies in giving an opportunity to someone with experience within the Lakers Organization. It did work marvelously when the Lakers picked up Pat Riley within the organization after the forced exit of another Coach during the “Show Time” years of the eighties. It may work again. Instead of taking a decision in such a hurry, Lakers should have given an opportunity to either Kurt Rambis or Brian Shaw for an Interim Coaching position this year. They both are familiar with the Lakers organization and the players and deserved a chance and if it had not worked out, Lakers would have plenty of time to look for another outside Coach. However, the die is cast and I wish Mike D'Antoni all the best. Hopefully he has learned from his past experience and he will complement his excellent offensive talent by hiring a good defense minded assistant coach to prepare the Lakers for a successful season this year. Keep it simple Lakers!
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