Lakers’ Brown has enormous shoes to ‘Phil’

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Mike BrownTo say Lakers Head Coach Mike Brown has enormous shoes to fill would be the understatement of the century. Mike Brown was hired as head coach by the Lakers the same month they got swept by the Dallas Mavericks.

It’s not the fact that Mike Brown is taking the place of the best coach in NBA history. Phil Jackson has the NBA’s most titles among coaches past and present with an unprecedented 11 NBA Championship titles including 6 with the Chicago Bulls, and 5 with the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s not the simple fact that Mike Brown, at the age of 41, never won a tile in Cleveland with arguably the best player in the NBA in LeBron James. It’s the fact that expectations are in the stratosphere in Los Angeles. Especially when it comes to the Lakers. So given that, will Mike Brown deliver a championship to Titletown USA?

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Los Angeles is a long way from Cleveland in every usage of the term. Literally and in the sense that the city hasn’t won a championship since Jim Brown and the Cleveland Browns won the AFL Championship in 1964. The Cavaliers made it to the Finals in 2007 but were swept by the Spurs that year. Mike Brown coached that team to multiple 60 plus win seasons and an MVP in LeBron James. He also received Coach of the Year honors in 2009. However, with all these accolades, Mike Brown couldn’t get over the hump of winning a championship in Cleveland. Even Phil Jackson was quoted in saying “…they don’t give out rings for winning the most games in a season.“ This when asked about the Sacramento Kings finishing with the most wins during the 2001-02 season. The Lakers eliminated them in the Western Conference Finals on their way to their 3rd straight Title.

Now Mike Brown is in Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum (for the time being?), Pau Gasol, and the crew. A far cry from LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Anderson Varejao. Mike Brown coached a less talented Cavaliers team to a Finals appearance. The pieces are in place for the Lakers, so the question isn’t; Can Brown deliver? It’s more along the lines of Will Brown Deliver? And when will he deliver? Because Lakernation won’t have much patience if they see their team on a losing streak. And they will want to run Mike Brown out-of-town faster than a Showtime fast break.

Going to the playoffs isn’t enough in Los Angeles. It may be enough for smaller markets that are happy to be at the party a selected few are invited to. Getting a guaranteed home playoff series isn’t going to satisfy Laker fans. Fans that are used to seeing their team play through June and capping it off with a victory parade ending in front of Staples Center. It’s all about expectations with the Lakers. And those expectations are nothing short of a championship.

It was once said that expectations without a plan is just a wish. Expectations with the Lakers have always been high, but having a solid plan in the past has been the reason the Lakers have 16 championship banners hanging in the rafters at Staples. Mike Brown has always been a preacher of defense creating offense and playing basketball from the inside out. Feeding the ball to the big men inside to attract enough attention to leave someone open on the perimeter. Let’s not forget Mike Brown was an assistant on Gregg Popovich’s Spurs with the Twin Towers Tim Duncan and David Robinson. This is what Mike Brown is all about and he plans on instilling this brand of smash mouth blue-collar basketball to the bright lights of Tinsel Town.

The expectations are great. Mike Brown is coaching a superstar team with superstar fans. He has a plan to go with these expectations. With the current team he has and the Lakers’ front office committed to winning, he can win. The question however remains… Will Mike Brown win in Los Angeles? It all comes down to the players buying into his blue-collar grind it out style of basketball and putting their trust in their new coach.

Terrance Shumake is an NBA team writer for The Sports Blitz and can be contacted at

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