One of the reasons the Los Angeles Lakers will hire Mike Brown as head coach is to firmly, and unequivocally, put the Phil Jackson era behind them. Jackson enjoyed tremendous success--and "tremendous" isn't even strong enough a word--with L.A., compiling a 610-292 (.676) and winning five championships, but they're through with that. They want a fresher approach, at least according to "an NBA official" who spoke to Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times, and Brown offers just that:
What he is not is a politician and a psychologist," said the official. "Maybe that's what attracted them. They want to get away from the triangle. They went far away from the Phil model. I think they're trying to find their [Tom] Thibodeau and that's the thing du jour now: defense, defense, defense."
Though Brown has neither Jackson's gravitas nor resume--who does?--he's still enjoyed success of his own, with a 272-138 (.663) record over five seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It's easy to poke fun at his blank expression on the sidelines, or to point out he had LeBron James to help him to that impressive record. But talent alone doesn't win ballgames, and it's unfair to Brown to deny him credit for his team's success.
The Lakers knew Jackson planned to retire when the season ended, so they've had a while to weigh their options and decide what they want, and don't want, from his replacement. Brown fits the criteria they used, so he's their man. But why did management want so badly to change the culture of a team that won more than two-thirds of its games under its previous head coach? After all, the Lakers could have promoted longtime assistant coach Brian Shaw, kept the Triangle offense, and proceed that way.
The answer, writes Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski, is Lakers vice president Jim Buss is sick of living in Jackson's shadow, and wants to make his own mark on the franchise. The son of team owner Dr. Jerry Buss, Jim Buss has taken over the basketball side of the Lakers' operations; his sister Jeannie, who's dating Jackson, will run the business side.
"Jim Buss is running the Lakers now, and this is a frightening proposition for everyone," Wojnarowski says, noting that Jim Buss headed L.A.'s search for a new head coach, with his father and general manager Mitch Kupchak assisting.
It's hard to come away from Wojnarowski's report excited about what's happening behind the scenes at Staples Center; if Jim Buss is as eager to make the franchise over in his image as Wojnarowski says he is, perhaps L.A. is in trouble. Then again, the Lakers have one of the league's most talented teams and now, with Brown, a young (41), successful coach who can instill the defensive values the team lacked in recent years. This is not a crisis. Not yet, anyway.