Wood’s Word: It’s tough to be the fired coach
Looking back on some of the previous columns I have written, I noticed a lot of talk about the Los Angeles Lakers and not enough about the Utah Jazz.
Thus, as I sat at my desk stirring pensively on how to incorporate my love for the Jazz into this week’s post, I fell short — not because there wasn’t enough to discuss concerning the men of the music note, mind you. I was simply overwhelmed with thoughts regarding a different news story.
Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez broke up.
I was sure that the hope for the world couldn’t fall lower. But oh, how the world let me down again!
After a disappointing 1-4 start to the 2012-13 season, former Lakers head coach Mike Brown was fired last Friday. Despite my desire to erase the team from my mind, I couldn’t escape the (not-so-surprising) update to the continuing saga in Southern California.
Brown, who led LA to a 41-25 record and the Western Conference Semifinals in 2012, was entering — I repeat, entering — his second season as the head coach of the Lakers. The team was winless during the recent preseason, and, although the preseason is regarded as relatively unimportant, the lack of victory for a team with such advertisement over the summer was surely causing some subtle panic.
The Lakers had one of the most productive offseason breaks in history. The team acquired two of the league’s best players — three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard and two-time MVP Steve Nash — and did so by giving up an improving Andrew Bynum, as well as a hefty supply of future draft picks. But the expectations were instantly put on the team’s shoulders, and any failure to reach the highest possible outcome would certainly be terminal to members of the roster and staff.
So, being winless during the preseason and beginning the regular season with a 1-4 record, the suits of the Lakers decided it would be within the best interest of the team to part ways with the former NBA Coach of the Year.
The decision sparks many questions. Were five games enough to justify the firing of a coach who has been statistically successful throughout his career? Was it the fault of the coach to begin with?
The Lakers entered the season already troubled with injuries. Kobe Bryant has suffered lately from leg and foot injuries, Steve Nash bruised his knee against the knee of former Weber State University star Damian Lillard, and new pickup Dwight Howard returns after an offseason of recovery from back surgery. The backups for these players (although Bryant continues to play) are less than incredible, and the team currently sits among the lowest in the league in overall team defense. The starting players have had almost no time to connect with one another, and general level of play looks like a mess. While poor coaching could be an overall factor, who’s to say after only five games?
Now, after Brown’s firing, talks of a new coach have immediately surfaced. The rumored front-running candidate, 11-time NBA Championship and former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson.
Among Jackson, other candidates include former Suns and Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni, and rumors of former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan have been in the mix.
By the time this column is published, the possibility of seeing Phil Jackson as the Lakers’ head coach is quite likely. If the deal has yet to be made, it may only be a matter of time.
The whole situation causes many questions, but the biggest question may be the following: Could this have been the plan all along?
The notoriously grumbly Kobe Bryant has always regretted the low note on which Jackson left the Lakers a few years ago. Phil Jackson has been said to be rather partial to the current LA roster. Was it only a matter of a poor two-week record to begin a season? Everything seems to be falling nicely into some sort of place.
Except for Mike Brown.