Bickerstaff’s focus is for the Lakers to just win
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES – As Bernie Bickerstaff stared at the glare of the lights and heard the rapid fire of so many cameras inside a packed media room at the Staples Center before his team played Golden State Friday evening, there were plenty of other places he would rather have been.
This had not been the plan that morning, when the 68-year-old Lakers assistant prepared for shoot-a-round and hoped the underperforming Lakers could turn things around after its 1-4 start. But after, as USA TODAY Sports first reported, 42-year-old head coach Mike Brown had been fired, Bickerstaff was the new interim coach who wished that wasn’t the case.
“We all hurt, because there’s a mutual respect (for Brown),” Bickerstaff, who hasn’t been a head coach since 2007 but has logged 14 seasons at the helm in his long career. “Mike’s a great coach. Mike has won a lot of basketball games. He’s been in the Finals (with Cleveland in 2007), and he’s had the opportunity to coach two of the greatest basketball players in the league in LeBron and Kobe Bryant. He’ll land. I have no reservations about that.”
Bickerstaff has known Brown for a long time. He hired Brown as a young video coordinator when he was with the Denver Nuggets in the mid-1990s and later hired him as an assistant in Washington.
The problem, of course, was the Brown’s bosses certainly had their reservations.
Yet while owner Jerry Buss, his son and lead executive, Jim Buss, and general manager Mitch Kupchak continued to ponder Brown’s replacement, with leading options believed to include a Phil Jackson return or the possible hiring of Mike D’Antoni or even Jerry Sloan, the players and coaches who are waiting for their next directive tried – as Bickerstaff so emphatically said – “to win the game.”
“If I might plagiarize for a minute, and borrow something from our professional football brethren, we will try to win the game,” Bickerstaff said in a tribute to the famous quote from former New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards. “I have no expectations other than tonight. I have no control over … [For more on Bernie Bickerstaff's focus is for the Lakers to just win, click here.]