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Firing Mike Brown not just the right decision, it was the only decision

Nov 9, 2012, 5:18 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Mike Brown Getty Images

When the Lakers relieved head coach Mike Brown of his duties on Friday morning, legitimate questions about the timing of such a major decision were certain to arise.

Why now?

Isn’t the team overreacting a bit after just five games?

The short answers are one, because it was clear that this was going to get worse before it got better, and two, L.A. knew what it had in Brown, and knew even at this early stage of the season that he was not the man for the job.

Firing Brown at this point was not only the right decision, it was the only decision.

The Lakers had an entire season to evaluate Mike Brown as head coach, so if you’re among those pointing to these first five games as too narrow of a window to pass judgment on Brown’s abilities, you’re really only fooling yourself.

L.A. went through a lackluster season a year ago, one filled with as much disappointment or more than there’s been to start things off in 2012. The club wasn’t quite as loaded as it is this year on paper, with new additions Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the fold. But the Lakers had Kobe Bryant playing at a high level and leading the league in scoring for most of the year, and Andrew Bynum finally making the leap on both ends of the floor to vault himself to the level of NBA All-Star.

Let’s also not forget about Pau Gasol, though his season wasn’t as productive as those in his Lakers past. But the way Brown misused Gasol offensively was glaring, and the fact he couldn’t get him comfortable playing alongside a more ball-dominant Bynum who was getting the bulk of the work in the post might give us some insight into the Lakers’ thinking.

The team had an entire season and five games to realize what anyone who watched Brown’s Cleveland teams should already have known — that offensively, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. The Princeton Offense was a crutch, and one that Brown was willing to hand over to assistant coach Eddie Jordan to run so he could displace blame if things didn’t go according to plan.

No, Brown’s strength was always supposed to be his defensive schemes, but again, with the benefit of an entire season in L.A., we could see that he couldn’t produce there, either. Brown could do no better than coach his team to an efficiency ranking of 17th in the league in that category, and the Lakers are even worse there now, currently sitting at 22nd.

If offense isn’t your thing and you can’t get the team on the same page defensively, then what’s left? Obviously, the answer is to part ways — and do so sooner, rather than later.

This season is all about bringing another championship to Los Angeles; the Lakers wasted an opportunity to do that last year with Brown in charge, and they weren’t about to waste any more time watching things fall apart just to hope that they would slowly end up coming back together in time for the playoffs.

The Lakers have had plenty of time to evaluate Brown — there was no overreaction, and the timing was perfect. They made the only decision that made any sense.

  1. bucs24 - Nov 9, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Is that why Phil Jackson was in LA this morning.

  2. btwicey - Nov 9, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Meh, I guess it’s the coaches fault in bball more than any other sport because it’s 5 on 5 but still, it irks me that the superstars earning the millions will never take even a tiny bit of the blame in pro sports. They’re the ones throwing bricks, dropping catches, throwing curves in the dirt or over the middle of the plate, walking on defense and throwing interceptions. Don’t pass the buck all the damn time!

  3. chargerdillon - Nov 9, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    If anybody thinks these 5 games is why he’s fired just doesnt get it. As a Laker diehard who watches as many games as he can of the Lakers, it was clear Brown was NEVER a good fit for a team that had spent years mastering a specific offense of which their primary point scorer had used to build a history of 5 championships.

    On top of removing that great offensive system to implement his own, the reality is he had no offensive gameplan which is why they threw is poor system out the window this years much worse Princeton offense.

    There’s a reason it’s called the Princeton offense, is because it works great for guys 24 years and younger who arnt already multimillionaires who actually listen to a coach. Mike Brown is neither a coach young players would listen to nor does Mike Brown have young players willing to run the system.

    He has 4 different field generals on the same court all with different skills none of which are specialized in the Princeton offense.

    To the Lakers credit, it took them 1 season and 5 games to realize you can’t force a round peg into a square hole.

  4. bucs24 - Nov 9, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    That’s why Phil Jackson was getting picked up at LAX.

  5. pellypell - Nov 9, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Ok, this is what, the 7th article in a row regarding this situation? How about you guys all get on a conference call, organize your thoughts and write a single article regarding Brown’s firing. There are 29 other teams and if the next post is about how Mike Brown pooped corn because he ate Shepherds Pie last night, I’m going to puke.

  6. prourke22 - Nov 9, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    The organization is the one who got rid of the triangle by hiring Mike Brown. Mike Brown is the guy who tried to fit an offense to the liking of kobe. Mike’s offense and defense worked well in Cleveland because of the players he had.
    The front office is the one to blame. Just over a year ago lots of Lakers fans liked this move to bring him in. He was given an old slow team, when he liked a fast tempo offense.
    Not saying it was his coaching, but its the system with certain players in place. kobe isn’t a guy that worked in his offense

  7. scalfor3 - Nov 9, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Peter principle at work: Brown is a very good defensive assistant, but he’s in over his head as a head coach who has to manage superstar egos. And you could see it in Cleveland too, Lebron quit on him in that last playoff game. This is the right move, but only because the Lakers made the wrong move twice (once by hiring him, and twice by keeping him for a second season). The one thing that is to the Lakers credit is that they were willing to acknowledge their mistake before it was too late. For evidence of the damage refusing to do that can be to a sports franchise, take a look at the New York Jets and their QB situation.

  8. id4joey - Nov 9, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    The Lakers had an entire season to evaluate Mike Brown as head coach, so if you’re among those pointing to these first five games as too narrow of a window to pass judgment on Brown’s abilities, you’re really only fooling yourself.’ So, why not fire the guy at the end of last season,

  9. timb12 - Nov 9, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    An I the only one who thinks he looks like Mr. Potato Head with glasses?

  10. jimthebuilder27 - Nov 9, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Why even hire this guy in the first place? He’s a lousy head coach. His teams have won in spite of him, not because of him! He was never a great coach in Cleveland and was over his head in LA. He got to the playoffs in Cleveland because of Lebron and made it LA because of Kobe and Bynum.

    This should be a warning to the NBA, din’t install this man as head coach.

  11. joedavis291 - Nov 9, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    I didn’t know Mike Brown was the genius that brought a PG with a bad back and a center that wants to play elsewhere and had back surgery you bring in junk and these is what you get

  12. progress2011 - Nov 9, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    Unless the Buss family breaks the bank again, like they did for Phil Jackson….why would any respectable coach put themselves under such conditions.

    Dude got a 5 day probationary period to implement a new offense with a new roster and no bench !!!

    A person would have to be a novice, to have not saw the issues !!!

    All of us that live outside FAKER-LAND saw it and told all the Faker fans about it, before the season even started.

    Ya’ll refused to listen… look at cha…….AHAHAHAHAHA !!!!

  13. manchestermiracle - Nov 9, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    I kept waiting for Kurt to write something like this instead of repeatedly claiming the Lakers were overreacting and hitting the panic button, but it never came. Thanks, Brett, for a much needed injection of perspective.

  14. thaysao - Nov 9, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    It only took one of those evil looks from Kobe and he’s gone. Haha

  15. bigtrav425 - Nov 9, 2012 at 10:22 PM

    The right thing?? You are just as asinine as Kupchak! I’m not a Mike Brown guy but it’s 5 freaking games!!! Hasn’t even had a full workout with his full team!

  16. edavidberg - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    Mike Brown is a poor head coach. Bad head coaches can make the NBA Finals. Bad head coaches can masquerade as good ones. Mike Brown never had a clue on the offensive end. He does not understand it on the NBA level. His hiring was nothing short of bizarre.

  17. philtration - Nov 10, 2012 at 12:26 AM

    This is one of the saddest days in NBA history and I just want to tell the Laker fans that we all support you in these trying times.

    Just kidding.
    Please continue to and whine about this season just as much as you bragged about it before a single game was played.

  18. bobbyboucheh20 - Nov 10, 2012 at 5:48 AM

    What happens if Phil or Mike start 2-9 or 3-7 when they come in?Will Buss fire them as Lakers must win now???or will they become biggest hypocrites in sports today??

  19. cornbreadbbqred - Nov 11, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    If you ask me, it was clear from the beginning it was a bad hire. A grand opportunity was missed by not pursuing Byron Scott! I can’t blame Laker ownership and managment as a decision probably had not been made on parting ways with Phil Jackson at that point. However, if they do not land Jackson again, not seizing the future will always loom as Buss’s beginning stamp on running that organization. Pray for Phil’s return this year Laker fans! If he does not return, then offer the farm for the return of Byron Scott to his land of birth!

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