Mike Brown apparently forgot his shoe size. Or maybe the Los Angeles Lakers forgot to measure before asking the former Cavaliers coach to take over the storied franchise after the departure of longtime legend Phil Jackson.
Let’s get one thing clear: it’s easy to see why the Lakers would reach for Brown — at least with a quick glance. The experience is there from an appearance in the finals. The overall won-loss record is impressive at 272-138 with a .663 career winning percentage. He won Coach of the Year in the 2008-2009 season. He also has experience coaching arguably the game’s biggest star. Impressive resume indeed.
A closer glance reveals some issues here. In an era with a very clear disparity between the Eastern and Western Conferences, Brown couldn’t win with the best player in the game — making it to the NBA Finals only once in five seasons despite finishing first or second in regular season wins in five consecutive seasons. In fact, he couldn’t make it out of the conference semi-finals three times, including his final year in 2009-2010 when he was fired shortly thereafter by the Cavs.
Even worse, his best player quit on him. It’s obvious that LeBron James checked out and despite whatever praise he now has for his coach in retrospect (phoning in a PR quote from his new South Beach digs, of course), there’s no question the two didn’t see eye to eye as time went on. No matter who else the Cavs surrounded LeBron with, Brown could never put the pieces together to make it work.
And now the stakes couldn’t be higher for a personality like Mike Brown. He steps into one of the largest markets possible with one of the most notable franchises in any sport. He has the looming shadow of Phil Jackson hanging over his head, and his star players are surely set in their ways on the downside of their careers. Of course, the Lakers are still loaded with Kobe Bryan, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest, but Brown enters a must-win environment from the beginning in a loaded Western conference with rising powers like Oklahoma City and steady forces like Dallas.
Even worse, Kobe recently cast his vote for other candidate Brian Shaw, who was the other finalist along with Rick Adelman and Brown. All three coaches certainly have their strong points, but Brown isn’t what the fan base will think that he is. He’s a good coach who enjoyed the ability to put every game in the hands of the game’s best player. Sure, he has more talent to work with than ever before. That much is clear. But the competition is also greater, the spotlight brighter and the shoes larger than ever. And I’m predicting that the shoes will end up to be too big in the end.