The Los Angeles Lakers were well on their way to another loss last week in Utah, when Kobe Bryant stared at Coach Mike Brown. We've all seen this look from Bryant before, usually directed toward opposing players to intimidate them after he's nailed a back-breaking jump shot. But in this case, believe it or not, it was aimed squarely at Brown.
Bryant's stare was full of disappointment, irritation, and frustration. It was an early indication that the end was near for the coach who was hired two summers ago. Clearly, Brown was a poor fit well before he was fired on Friday after a 1-4 start put the Lakers in last place in the Western Conference.
The Lakers' 2012-13 season is intended to bring back the championship glory to one of the league's most storied franchises. When the Lakers stumbled out of the gate, and appeared to lack cohesiveness against every opponent, with the exception of the Detroit Pistons, Brown conveniently became the scapegoat, which happens regularly in Los Angeles if your name isn't Pat Riley or Phil Jackson.
Brown brought a keen knowledge of the game to Los Angeles. But the Lakers coaching job is a high-profile, glamorous position that requires charm and salesmanship. That's where Brown came up short. Both Jackson and Riley, who came before him, mastered the position of Lakers coach.
The reason Brown was fired after only 71 games had nothing to do with X's and O's, but because the Lakers' leadership, which includes Kobe Bryant along with the front office, didn't trust Brown's ability to connect with the team and lead it to the highest level.
When Brown was chosen to replace Jackson, he brought a solid track record with him to Los Angeles. However, in his first season Brown led the team back to the second round of the playoffs, where they were beaten in five games by the up-and-coming Western Conference Champion, Oklahoma City Thunder. Over the summer, players were belly-aching about Brown's lengthy practices and were slow to adjust to a new system and a more demanding coaching style.