HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The workday pressures Lakers coach Mike Brown faces these days must pale in comparison to the pressures he deals with at home.
Sure, replacing legendary coach Phil Jackson and coaching future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant raises the blood pressure a little bit. But Brown isn’t living in a work-only vacuum. He’s got another shooting guard at home, his teenage son Elijah, a junior at Mater Dei High School, demanding his attention as well.
Much like his father, Elijah Brown is making the transition from Cleveland to Los Angeles, and from his former high school to a new one in Southern California. Talk about pressure!
In a business where the basketball bond between father and son is as sacred as it can be temperamental, depending on the father and son, the Brown’s had the added pressure of moving across the country to embrace the new challenges faced by the entire family (which includes Brown’s wife Carolyn and younger son Cameron).
Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register offers a fantastic look inside the complex but rewarding relationship between the Lakers’ new coach and his oldest son and the basketball bond that has helped strengthen their connection.
It’s a must-read. Here’s a snippet:
Having a famous basketball father is great on one level but not necessarily a picture-perfect family album. Like Bryant and Walton, Elijah Brown feels a natural closeness with the parent who has been there, inside and outside the gym.
“I’ve been playing basketball since about 3,” Elijah said. “With basketball comes my dad. In that sense, my dad and I have been extra close. But he has also been traveling my whole life, and we haven’t had the same amount of time that I’ve had with my mom.
“Me and my mom have a certain relationship together; we’ve just been together my whole life. My dad’s the one who is always on me about my basketball, especially. I’m close with my parents in different ways.”
Mike Brown gets it. As easy as Brown’s big laugh comes, he knows life is no half-hour sitcom. Many days, he isn’t even home for a half-hour.
That’s why Brown’s year off from coaching just after turning 40 was a revelation. The Cleveland Cavaliers kept falling short of the NBA championship under Brown, so they fired him and the fifth-highest winning percentage in NBA coaching history in a desperate and futile move to get free-agent superstar LeBron James to try a fresh start with them in 2010.
Sorely disappointed by his freshman season, Elijah approached and said: “Dad, I want to start working out every day before school. I need to get better.” Cameron, two years younger and not as interested in sports previously, approached and said: “Dad, since you’re not working, can you help coach my football team?”
“Not only did it help them, it helped me,” Mike Brown said. “It helped me reconnect with my kids and my wife. As an NBA coach, you’re on the go so much and with how competitive everybody is, including me, you might be physically home but mentally you’re still at your last loss or what you’re going to do at your next practice.”
“The only definition of ready I felt for me in coaching again was: Am I ready to leave what I had going on with my two boys and my wife? It was easy to be able to say to my wife, ‘Hey, let’s go to dinner tonight.’ I didn’t have to think about film or practice or anything like that. I didn’t feel like I was cheating anybody else or cheating my job.”