With NBA training camps getting set to begin this Friday, a superstar and new head coach will be creating their first full practice together for what will could be an interesting season for the franchise they both work for.
Mike Brown was hired back in the summer to take over the helm of Hollywood central as Phil Jackson retired from coaching the Los Angeles Lakers. While taking the job as the Lakers coach is a great position, it also comes with a lot of baggage that will need a ton of work and dedication to mold into a successful product. It all starts with superstar Kobe Bryant.
Brown will have to be ready for the preparation it will take in coaching one of the best shooting guards outside of Michael Jordan to ever play the game. In a recent interview with Mike Trudell of the Los Angeles Lakers website, Brown will be using what Gregg Popovich taught him in coaching Pop's own superstar Tim Duncan.
MT: You were asked about what you expected your relationship with Kobe Bryant to be quite often after taking the job. What do you anticipate from No. 24 in the coming days?
Brown: One of the many things I took away from (Spurs coach) Gregg Popovich when I was with him was, regardless of how successful he’s been as a coach, he always tells me that Tim Duncan allows (Popovich) to coach him. That’s an interesting way to put it. In this business, if you want to succeed at the highest level, you have to be able to work together, as opposed to somebody working for somebody else. We’re all in this thing together because we have one common goal. I know Kobe’s going to bring the work ethic, I know I’m going to bring the work ethic, and that’s where the respect level will increase. That’ll lead to more trust. We’re both competitors striving for the same goal.
The difference between what Pop faced and what Brown will face is whether or not Bryant will be willing to create a winning relationship with Brown. Brown has already said his intentions are to run a system similar to the Spurs in which the ball will mainly be running through the Lakers two seven footers, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. With Bryant potentially being put as a third option, it could be a lot to handle for a guy who once scored 81 points in an NBA game.
Along with Bryant, Brown will constantly need to keep the cohesion at bay in the Lakers locker room where there are a ton of "spirited" personalities. Aside from Bryant, Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) is still a Laker at the moment, Lamar Odom has his "Kardashian" personality, and even Bynum and Gasol have been known to publicly release their frustrations. Oh I didn't even get the part about Matt Barnes being on the team.
Unlike the team Pop has in San Antonio, Brown will be facing a whole new challenge. Even when Brown coached LeBron James in Cleveland, General Manager at the time Danny Ferry was able to surround good "locker room" guys around James who was a team player himself.
Should the Lakers have any issues adjusting to Brown's system out of the gates, look for veteran teams like San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Dallas to jump out with an early grip on the Western conference.