5 reasons Howard makes the Lakers only paper champions

Dwight Howard

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers don’t rebuild, they simply reload.  With an impressive 16 NBA Championships throughout their illustrious history, the Lakers only trail the Boston Celtics by one in the overall title count.  In attempt to bring another championship to L.A. during the Kobe Bryant era, last week the Lakers pulled off one of the biggest trades in recent NBA history as they acquired Center Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic.  The move has Lakers fans ready to take a day off following next year’s NBA Finals in order to attend a Championship parade. Well, not so fast.  On paper the Lakers indeed have a championship roster but here are five reasons that a paper crown is the only one they’ll be wearing in the near future.

1.   Howard is an upgrade in name only.  When was the last time a Center led his team to an NBA Championship?  Try 2002 when the Shaquille O’Neal led Lakers won three consecutive titles.  The Lakers had the second best Center in the NBA and traded him for the best.  The problem is that Dwight Howard isn’t capable of taking over a game night in and night out.  Sure with the plethora of options in the Lakers starting five he won’t have to but then again neither did Andrew Bynum.  Last season, Bynum averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game with a trigger happy Kobe Bryant and a productive Pau Gasol.  Meanwhile, Dwight Howard averaged 18.4 points, 13 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game in an offensive system that featured him. The bottom line is that Howard is not a significant enough difference to put the Lakers over the top.

2.  Mike Brown is still the Lakers coach.  For several years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mike Brown had the best team in the NBA and it wasn’t on paper either.  His LeBron James led teams were kicking ass and taking no names; until it really counted in the NBA playoffs.  How will Brown put it all together and make all of the personalities mesh?  Kobe and Metta World Peace are enough on their own.  Now he’s going to have Dwight Howard, who we know can be a whiner, to deal with.  Brown’s one saving grace could be Steve Nash.  Nash is a floor general who is the Lakers best chance at finding chemistry quickly.

3.  The status of Howard’s back is an X factor.  The status of Dwight Howard’s back will be a huge question mark for the Lakers next season.  In April, Howard had season ending surgery to repair a herniated disk.  The move kept him out of the Olympics and crippled his former team’s chances during the playoffs.  Howard is currently unsure when he will return but reports have already begun to surface that he will not be ready for the start of the regular season.  What if he suffers a set back and doesn’t play until December or even the playoffs?  The trade will have become a huge bust for the Lakers.

4.  History says no championship next season.  As NBA history teaches us it’s difficult to assemble and NBA Championship team overnight.  The recent exception being the 2008 Boston Celtics who brought in Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to form a Big 3 along with Paul Pierce and went on to win a title immediately.  The Miami Heat tried to replicate what the Celtics did by signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh to go along with Dwayne Wade.  As everyone knows it took them two seasons to figure it out.  Back in 2003 the Lakers signed veteran free agents Karl Malone and Gary Payton to go along with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.  That Lakers team struggled with chemistry which eventually resulted in a five game defeat at the hands of a lackluster Detroit Pistons roster in the NBA Finals.

5.  The Oklahoma City Thunder.  Before the Lakers can even entertain the thought making it to the NBA Finals they’ll have to dethrone the current Western Conference Champions and a hungry Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will have plenty to say about it.  OKC assembled its team from the ground up and after losing to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals they will be determined to make another championship run.  For the Thunder to fall to the Lakers (another assembled to win team) it would be a slap in the face of the right way to win championships.  And Lakers fans better believe that the Thunder aren’t ready to rollover in defeat just yet.

Follow Aaron on Twitter @Da_Bear_Truth

5 reasons why Mike Brown deserves another year

Mike BrownAfter the Los Angeles Lakers got eliminated from this season’s NBA playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder many fans, and media, were calling for Coach Mike Brown’s head. That’s nothing new, they have wanted him to be fired all season.

But I’m here to tell you that he deserves another chance. You can’t just get rid of him. Yet.

And here’s why:

1. He’s the new guy. Mike Brown came in with a whole new system this season. Jim Buss made sure that all traces of The Triangle offense were gone. Brown had to bring in a whole mew system and the players weren’t too receptive. They even tried a mutiny and tried to bring The Triangle back. When the Mike Brown System was given a chance it worked. Every time the Lakers went inside to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum first, good things happened. Read more here…

Mike Brown refuses to call Kobe the best, why?

Kobe Bryant Wins 4th ChampionshipMany have questioned Kobe Bryant’s legacy as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time recently due to him moving past Shaquille O’Neal and into fifth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

When new head coach Mike Brown of the Los Angeles Lakers was asked about Kobe’s legacy he had some interesting comments.

“When you look at championship rings, the guys who have multiple rings are the ones who should be mentioned when you’re talking about people’s legacies. They should be mentioned first because there are a lot of great players out there that I believe can put up great numbers and do great things, especially on a team when you don’t win, it’s a different type of pressure you go through.”

“When you have five of them and have the possibility of getting more, or six or seven or eight, it’s like, ‘Whoa.’ That right there separates you or puts you in a different category. If you’re talking about pure talent alone, yeah, there are other guys out there who have a high talent level. But are they to the level of Kobe’s? In different aspects of the game.”

“You talk about who’s a more talented passer between LeBron and Kobe, well, LeBron is. Who’s a more talented mid-range scorer, well, Kobe is. Who’s a better attacker, Dwyane Wade is. So they all do different things different than each other, but at the end of the day, when it comes to combining talent and skill with the most important thing, which is winning, I don’t know how you don’t give him the edge.”

For a new head coach struggling to keep the Lakers afloat and hoping to avoid a Laker-Nation fallout this was not the answer anyone was looking for.

There is no reason Mike Brown shouldn’t have given Kobe the nod and stated that he is by far the best player he has ever seen no matter the aspect of the game.

Not only would this improve his rating with the fans it would also be the truth.

Right now Lakers’ fans don’t want to hear the bullshit.

Maybe the Lakers should hire Jack Nicholson?

Jack Nicholson LakersWhen Mike Brown was offered the position of Los Angeles Lakers head coach he also took on the challenge of continuing a dynasty that previous head coach Phil Jackson had put together in 99′.  Brown was the assistant coach for his son’s middle school basketball team at the time he was offered the head coaching position for the Lakers in May 2011. Initially, any fan that had an opinion on the Lakers was devastated over the news

Fast forward to the present and Jack Nicholson does a better job coaching in his chair than Coach Brown.

When Mike Brown was hired it felt as though a Brown cloud was hovering over the Staples Center. Many were expecting to see former Lakers player Brian Shaw fill that position, including Magic Johnson.

Shaw was the assistant coach for Jackson in the season prior to the Mike Brown era and is now the current assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers. Recently the Lakers have looked like a game of ‘Jenga’ that’s rattling and certainly missing a few important pieces. With their last win over the Timberwolves, the Lakers survived a much-needed road victory. The Purple and Gold team is starting to get comfortable being scrappy.

Even those flabbergasted at the signing of Coach Brown are beginning to smile and sit back in their chairs.

On the exact day Brown was signed, Bill Plaschke published with an article for the L.A. Times disapproving the decision. He said “Not only did Mike Brown not seem to be the best available candidate, he didn’t even seem to be the best available Brown.” In another article seven months later Plaschke wrote “Mike Brown is as old school as Josh McRoberts’ socks. He is as frantic as Troy Murphy’s hair. But he is as affable as Derek Fisher’s smile.” So while he is growing on to the city of angels, the wins need to grow faster.

If Jerry Buss cared more about what the city thought of their Coach they’d hire Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson. Cleary, a Lakers’ leader who could magically erase the point guard issues and already be in the loop of what’s been going for ages.

Magic had an interim head coach position with the Lakers for 16 games in the 93-94 season. Days before LA signed their new coach Magic said “Only a supremely experienced coach who has a deft touch with veterans can squeeze one more run out of these Lakers.” If former PG and assist legend Mark Jackson can go from a TV booth to the head man of the Golden State Warriors, why wouldn’t the Showtime give one of its founders a shot?

Many still argue who the Lakers Head Coach should be as if the Lakers are missing one. While many sit and question the coaching decisions made by Brown the reality is that Coach Mike Brown signed a four-year deal with the Lakers with an option on the fourth year. But in the case that the “Jenga” blocks fall, it isn’t the fault of the last person that pulls a piece, instead we should consider immediate changes on the team or result to living and breathing the KOBE SYSTEM! Until then let’s just let the man have a chance to deliver.

Hopefully Brown can do that for us.

Sam Sepanji is an NBA team writer for The Sports Blitz

Lakers’ Brown has enormous shoes to ‘Phil’

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?

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 TShumake@TheSportsBlitz.com