NBA @ 2: Calling Out Kobe Bryant
One of the criticisms of Mike Brown when his time as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ head coach was over, was that he wasn’t hard enough on his players . . .and in particular LeBron James. The fear that LeBron would walk away was so real that he was given free rein to do basically anything he wanted to do, and the entire coaching staff treated him with kid gloves for fear of making him decide to leave.
And, of course, he left anyway.
That’s not a mistake Mike Brown plans to repeat.
“What I’ve heard about him (before this season) was he was a pushover, he doesn’t say what he’s thinking and all this other sorts of stuff,” Bryant told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I haven’t seen that at all. He’s been the complete opposite. He’s been detail oriented, he’s been up front and open and honest. He praises guys when they do well, he jumps on them when they’re messing up right away.”
Of course, Brown has had a couple of years away from coaching to contemplate what happened in Cleveland, and it’s natural to assume that during that time he identified some things he could have done better. He’s coached just one preseason game and we’ve already seen that he’s willing to criticize where criticism is due, even if it’s the star player who needs the critique.
“That’s his job,” said Bryant, whom Brown called out for a lack of defensive intensity in the team’s preseason loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. “I’d be upset if he was just letting me skate through things. You make mistakes and the coach’s responsibility is to point those out. If he can’t point that out to me, he has no chance of pointing that out to anybody else.
“We’re here to be coached,” Bryant continued. “I’m here to be coached just like everybody else. It’s important for everybody to understand that. If I make a mistake, the coach’s job is to correct that. You can’t be sensitive, you can’t be a baby. You’re here to win.”
That’s exactly what Brown has in mind, and he pointed out what should otherwise be obvious . . .that giving corrective feedback is his first responsibility as coach.
“I look at it as coaching and that’s what (Lakers owner) Dr. (Jerry) Buss pays me to do,” said Brown. “He pays me to coach this team and if I was afraid to coach this team, I shouldn’t be here. It’s as simple as that. This business is a fiery business. You got a lot of different personalities and that’s part of being a head coach, you got to be able to juggle, maintain or find the balance to be able to work with the personalities. I don’t look at it as criticism, I look at it as coaching and if I didn’t do it, I’d be stealing.”
Brown and Bryant haven’t been working together for long, but already Brown sees the relationship as a good balance, and one that will lead to success for the Lakers this season.
“We balance each other out very well. I’m myself. So is he. We wind up complementing each other extremely well,” Brown said. “He and I communicate all the time. That’s the key, to make sure we’re on the same page and we are. We talk openly and freely all the time. Sometimes a coach can’t continue to preach the same message every single day to players. So that’s where I come in. I do that for him. The message has to be consistent.”
In a way it might have been a great deal easier for Mike Brown if the Chris Paul trade had gone through. He would have had a very different team under his watch than the one Phil Jackson left behind, so the comparisons would not have been as direct or as prevalent. As it is he inherits virtually the same team minus one key piece in Lamar Odom, and the prognosis is not good. If the Lakers fall from the ranks of the league’s elite it will be Brown who shoulders the lion’s share of the blame as Lakers fans around the world scream out in protest. And, of course, Kobe Bryant’s legacy and his quest to match Michael Jordan’s ring count now also lie somewhat in Brown’s hands.
With so much hanging in the balance, it’s important for Brown to find his voice early and assert it often. It’s important that he draw upon his perceived failures in Cleveland (though he was one of the winningest coaches in the league) as he seeks to establish his identity as the head coach of the world’s most popular (and most scrutinized) basketball team.
Mike Brown has his work cut out for him, to be sure, but he was absolutely the best choice as the Lakers sought to replace their legendary head coach. Now he just has to show the rest of the world what it was that inspired Jerry Buss to instill so much confidence in him.
Up Close: Jason Kidd
Winning the NBA championship last season was a dream come true for All-Star point guard Jason Kidd, one that he had almost started to think would elude him. In this exclusive interview with HOOPSWORLD Kidd talks about finally realizing that lifelong dream, trying to help Vince Carter get one this season, the new-look Mavs, and more!
Up until now the Dallas Mavericks have been saying the right things, that Brendan Haywood is ready to be the full time starter and that Brandan Wright is more than capable of being a backup center. Today the Mavericks made a move to shore up the front line just in case something else doesn’t pan out as expected, as detailed by the following press release:
The Dallas Mavericks announced today they have signed free agent forward/center Sean Williams. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Williams (6-10, 235) was originally the first round pick (17th overall) of the New Jersey Nets in the 2007 NBA Draft. He spent three seasons in New Jersey and averaged 4.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 126 games as a Net.
Born in Arlington, Texas, Williams was a standout at Mansfield High School and attended Boston College. In his junior season at Boston College, Williams averaged 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game. He set a school record when he recorded 13 blocked shots against Duquesne. Williams decided to forego his senior season and was an early entry candidate to the 2007 NBA Draft.
Williams spent last season in the NBA D-League where he was an All-Star and finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting. In 49 games (46 starts) with the Texas Legends, Williams averaged 14.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per contest.
Of course, being a D-League All-Star is a far cry from being a significant contributor on a championship team, but this move gives Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle another option that didn’t cost the franchise any long-term cap room . . .which is, after all, the overriding principle behind this year’s Dallas Mavericks. Repeating as champs is important, but perhaps not quite as important as preserving cap space to chase Deron Williams and/or Dwight Howard next summer.
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