The pressure to win in now in the NBA is immense, after three games several fans and pundits are calling for Lakers Head Coach Mike Brown to be fired after an 0-3 start. After a busy off-season that made Steve Nash and Dwight Howard Staple Center’s latest permanent residence many including Vegas odds makers had them pinned to challenge the Miami Heat and the OKC Thunder for an NBA Championship. Although the NBA season has not even reached its second week yet the Lakers have made a number of correctable mistakes that is common for a team with new pieces and aging players.
Kobe Bryant has been called a lot of things during his 15-year career but he was on point when he told the media and Laker-nation to relax that all is not lost. The ‘Black Mamba’s’ assessment may be accurate but the Laker faithful have seen this scenario once before during the Kobe era. In 2004, the Lakers front office added two future Hall of Famers in Gary Payton and Karl Malone and just like this year many considered them a lock to contend for an NBA title. However due to the diminishing talents of those aging stars and their inability to play within the triangle offense this team was swept in the first round of the NBA playoffs in an embarrassing fashion.
The red flags for a repeat of the 2004 season are there; the Lakers are the third oldest team in the NBA, both of their off-season additions Nash and Howard have serious injury concerns that may plague them all season. However, their biggest concern is that Mike Brown’s recently installed Princeton offense resembles the 1-on-5 Kobe show, which is the same offense that got him fired in Cleveland.
Many may ask why Coach Brown must go? But I ask you to take a moment to consider the championship caliber coaches who are currently sipping mai-tais and enjoying their time off (Rudy Tomjanovich, Phil Jackson, and Mike Dantoni). Just for a moment imagine how explosive the Laker offense would be with Dantoni at the helm. Dantoni would unclog the lane and spread the floor, Nash and Kobe have experienced great success in this offense.
Or how about someone already on the Laker payroll, Rudy Tomjanovich who won three NBA titles with the Houston Rockets setting an NBA record for being the lowest seeded team to ever win three consecutive titles. Although he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1998 latest reports indicate that he still has the itch to return to coaching. During his tenure with the Rockets his teams finished in the top-five in scoring and defense.
Last and definitely not least the great Phil Jackson who many believe is return to an NBA bench seems like a forgone conclusion once he has fully recovered from hip surgery. The thought of the winningest coach in NBA history teaming up with Kobe Bryant for one last hooray with Steve Nash as his point guard and Dwight Howard terrorizing down low must tantalizing for fans to imagine.
Despite their slow start the Lakers will still make the playoffs probably finishing no worst than third in the Western Conference. Although winning another division title is a good achievement if the season does not end with a championship everyone will spend another off-season wonder what-if.
The NBA season is only in its infancy but the questions surrounding the Lakers will continue to make headlines. How will their season turn out, so far not good but there is still 79 more games to go Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark