HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — They botched this one from the start, ignoring Phil Jackson‘s advice and passing over Brian Shaw for Mike Brown.
But we’ll get back to that in a minute.
The firing of Brown today, the third fastest ouster of a coach in league history and the first under five games in a season in some 40 years, was more than just an admission of guilt on the part of the powers that be at Lakers’ headquarters. It was the latest in a long list of slip-ups by a once proud franchise that seems to have lost its way here recently.
Two straight earlier-than-expected playoff exits (one in Jackson’s final season and one in Brown’s first) were followed up with the biggest player acquisition splash the league has seen since The Decision.
And yet, here we are, five games into what was supposed to be a championship season in Los Angeles, and the Lakers are reeling again. An organization that prides itself on being about titles first and foremost ignored the sound advice from the only coach they’ve had that’s won anything since the Showtime Lakers era ended.
Nearing the end of another era, the Kobe Bryant era, the Lakers are at a crossroads. Do they backtrack and scramble to replace Brown with Jackson, the one coach we know Bryant respects? Or do they roll the dice again on trying to replace Phil and the championship zen that comes along with him?
For all of the names you’ll hear tossed around as potential replacements for Brown — from Mike D’Antoni to Nate McMillan to Mike Krzyzewski to Jerry Sloan — Jackson, 67, is the only one that comes with the sort of track record that lends itself to dealing with not only Bryant but the championship expectations of Lakers die-hards and a city that doesn’t get excited for much else.
With Brown at the helm the Lakers were just trying to stay relevant in a Western Conference that had been overtaken by those young upstarts in Oklahoma City. They’d even fallen behind the rival Spurs in the pecking order the past two years, not to mention fending off their Staples Center and city rivals, the Clippers.
There’s a simple solution to all of this for the Lakers. And it’s the same solution they ignored last time. TNT’s David Aldridge is reporting that the Lakers are not seriously considering Jackson. But they should. They need to make the call and do whatever it takes to lure Jackson out of semi-retirement and get back to the business at hand.
If Kobe wants to give serious chase to title No. 6, and Dwight Howard and Steve Nash want to get their hands on No. 1, the best way to do it is with the man who helped guide Kobe to those first five.
Someone in Los Angeles needs to swallow some pride and hire Phil Jackson … again.