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Lakers Fire Mike Brown After 5 Games; A Basketball Tragedy

Mike Brown was fired Friday as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers after five games.

How ridiculous.

After days of offering support of the man, the team axes him, after a handful of outings? Maybe Brown was not the right fit for the Lakers; they sure looked mostly inept in their losses. But how does five games — five games to start a season with a new core group of players, an injured Steve Nash, a tentative Dwight Howard and a hobbling Kobe Bryant — define the man?

Guess what? It doesn’t. Sometimes sports can be so silly and frustrating. Brown did not necessarily distinguish himself as Red Auerbach in his time with the Lakers. But he wasn’t Kurt Rambis, either. How he could be run after less than a week into the season smells of panic and overreaction by the people who hired him a year ago.

“I have great respect for the Buss family and the Lakers’ storied tradition and I thank them for the opportunity they afforded me,” Brown said in a statement. “I have a deep appreciation for the coaches and players that I worked with this past year and I wish the organization nothing but success as they move forward.”

Whatever. In reality, Brown’s head has to be spinning. There was no justification for terminating this man after five games. What happened to patience? What happened to fairness? What happened to decency?

This is a basketball tragedy, a team rushing to irrational judgment a week into the season. Some may argue that Brown should never have been the coach, that the Lakers made a mistake in hiring him last season to replace Phil Jackson. Maybe so. But maybe not.

The guy didn’t get a chance.

And to make it even worse, they are plugging in Bernie Bickerstaff as the interim coach. Really? Seriously? Bickerstaff is a good basketball man, but his best coaching days are about two decades behind him. So, in essence, the Lakers are saying it’s better to not have a coach than to have Brown at the helm.

General manager Mitch Kupchak said this: “Today we relieved Mike Brown of his head coaching duties with the Los Angeles Lakers. Mike is a good man. Very hard working, maybe one of the hardest-working coaches that I’ve ever been around. The bottom line is that the team is not winning at the pace that we expected this team to win and we didn’t see improvement. We wish Mike well and we’re sorry it ended this way. So, we’ve decided to move in another direction and make a change.”

What bunch of baloney. Five games and the guy gets whacked?

Earlier reports Friday surfaced that Brown would be judged after a six-game homestand; even that seemed too stringent considering how early it is in the season. But the team has not had a chance to come together, what with Bryant, Howard and Nash all missing invaluable practice time.

Anyway, there’s a notion that Jackson might consider coming back to the bench for the Lakers. Why Mike D’Antoni’s name has come up as a candidate is unthinkable. Same with played-out Jerry Sloan or underwhelming Mike Dunleavy. Maybe Nate McMillan could be a fresh alternative. Brian Shaw, who should have gotten the job in the first place, is an assistant at Indiana.

“It’s not going to be a long process; that’s for damn sure,” a source told about the Lakers’ coaching search. “But they’re going to do their due diligence.”

This is for sure: They did not do their due diligence in bouncing Mike Brown, a good man who deserved better.


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