Sunday, November 4, 2012

In Defense of Mike Brown: What's Wrong with the Early-Season Los Angeles Lakers

(MAMBINO piece on the superb Lakers blog, Silver Screen and Roll. Check it!)

''I don't know if they will grasp it all,'' Jackson said the other day. ''Everything takes time and everything is instinctual. A lot of what you do you can't emulate or copy. You can't put it back in the same order you did it before. I may not introduce any of the usual stuff to the team until it's the right time. And it may not be the right time for four or five months."--The New York Times, October 31st, 1999

Before the seven more NBA Finals appearances and five more gold trophies adorning Dr. Jerry Buss' office space, Chicago Bulls maestro Phil Jackson came into Los Angeles charged with the task of making a talented, but underachieving Lakers team into a champion. He would install Tex Winters' vaunted triangle offense into L.A.'s offensive schemes, a conceptual scoring attack that even now (after 11 titles) some people regard as a form of smoke and mirrors witchcraft (one of Jackson's assistants on the Lakers, Brian Shaw, recounted last year to's Ian Thompsen "When I go out on head-coaching interviews and if I mention the word 'triangle,' it makes general managers and owners cringe. They don't want to hear about the triangle offense, they don't want to hear about Phil Jackson").

Ever undeterred, Jackson preached patience, and that's what he got. The 1999-2000 Lakers justified this attitude, and shot out of the gate, going 15-5 in November and along with his extraordinary past success in Chicago, captured the confidence of the city and Lakers Nation.

Mike Brown doesn't have Phil Jackson's record of success. The most the two have in common is coaching a 60-win team, appearing in the NBA Finals and their one Coach of the Year trophy apiece. What they do share is the journey of getting a team of underachieving superstars to buy into an intricate new system. For Jackson, it was the aforementioned triangle offense and relying on the team not to adhere to a certain set of plays, but rather to collectively grow within themselves a set of instincts that would get them open shots. For Brown, he's asking a team of veterans to buy not only into a complex Princeton offense, but also a tough defensive scheme that he only spoke of in theory, not in actual practice last season. Patience, as with Phil Jackson, has been preached by not just the coaching staff, but also by the team. 

Read more over at Silver Screen and Roll

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