So the Lake Show is 1-4. Tonight, they play Golden State and they’re 3-2. This post was mostly done and as it think is still apparent from those first two sentences, it was shaping up to be one long sigh. But then something amazing happened Friday.
Mike Brown has been fired as head coach of the Lakers.
This is fantastic news. While there is a reasonable argument that firing a coach after five games smells like panic, this move also shows the Lakers realize they should be winning now– not after the offense finally gets dialed in, not after Antawn Jameson invents a time machine, not after Dwight Howard figures out how to not be a piece of shit. Now. Why else have Steve Nash’s aching back on your team? ALTTAB agrees wholeheartedly with Magic:
Feel bad for Coach Mike Brown, who’s a great guy, but don’t think he was the right guy for the job in the first place.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 9, 2012
Mike Brown’s issues were not that he was a dick or that he didn’t work hard enough. Supposedly he slept in his office at Staples quite a bit. Actually, that fact informs his greater problem: he coached too much.
Nearly every person in the universe who looked at the Lakers’ line up this year and had the following thought, either as a dream or a nightmare:
Steve Nash uses a Pau Gasol screen, hits a rolling Gasol with the perfect, left-handed pocket pass. Gasol draws an extra defender and hits an open Kobe Bryant in the corner. Kobe blows by a closing defender, spins past another, throws a no-look pass off the glass, where a smiling Dwight Howard finishes with a two-handed dunk, all while Metta World Peace is sharing popcorn and a beverage with an A-list fan, knowing his services aren’t often needed on the offensive end of the floor. (via Israel Gutierrez)
Self evident, yes? And the key to all of this, as Gutierrez notes, is Nash. Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that the idea to implement the modified Princeton offense (which, to us, looked a lot like Kobe throwing endless post inlets to Dwight Howard) actually began prior to the Lakers’ acquisition of Nash. But once Nash was in purple and gold, shouldn’t this offense have been thrown out in favor of the pick and roll? Again, why else have Nash on your team, if you’re not interested in taking advantage of his skills? This situation has been a little complicated by Nash’s apparent inability to stay on the floor without the Phoenix Suns’ training staff. But if the Lakers’ issue had been Nash’s health, if the problem had been that Steve “Adult Chicken Pox” Blake wasn’t able to effectively run Nash’s sets, then Mike Brown wouldn’t be in the same situation. Certainly he’d have been expected to make adjustments, but everyone would be focused on how Nash wrangled a three year contract out of the Lakers when even the Phoenix Suns, with US Airways Arena built atop the Fountain of Youth, passed. I’m as big a Kendall Marshall fan as anyone, but if you have access to a healthy Nash, he’s the right choice. Instead, Mike Brown insisted on applying a system that made no sense given his personnel. Too much coaching.
And that’s only on offense. Mike Brown, according to people who write about him, is known as a defensive “mastermind.” Despite that reputation, Mike Brown’s Lake Show wasn’t known for it’s defensive toughness.
…Brown was hired for his defensive acumen, and the Lakers’ defense, especially since the trade deadline last year when they acquired Ramon Sessions and traded Fisher, has been bad. They are 23rd this season in defensive rating (points per 100 possessions), and that’s with three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard. The Lakers’ defense wasn’t struggling, it was bad.
There really isn’t a good explanation for that result, if you buy Mike Brown’s supposed defensive coaching skills. And you shouldn’t. This is the guy that said about both LeBron and Kobe, “He lets me coach him.” While that is clearly cherry picking one sentence among tens of thousands Mike Brown has spoken in the past decade, it shows a lack of gravitas that no coach, especially a “defensive” coach, should expose. Phil Jackson would never say something like that. Twice. And with the Lakers, that who you’re going to be compared to.
In the aftermath, the Lakers’ players have been widely described as “surprised” by Mike Brown’s firing and Kobe has begun advocating for Phil to unretire and return to LA. But there are lots of usual suspects for the Lakers’ head coaching job. Here at ALTTAB, we have one person in mind: Mike D’Antoni. It’s about Nash. Granted, he needs to get healthy. But a healthy Nash back with D’Antoni’s seven seconds or less, with Kobe taking over in critical situations and Howard covering Nash’s liabilities on defense– that’s the version of the 2012-2013 Lake Show we want to see.