Mike Brown has been very fortunate in his coaching career to this point. He has had the opportunity to coach both LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. After cutting his teeth as an assistant coach, Brown was given his first opportunity to be a head coach in Cleveland where he had the opportunity to coach LeBron James. After numerous wins and accomplishments but not championships in Cleveland, Brown was let go. He then landed on his feet coaching Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers this past season. His first year in LA was a bit of a rollercoaster. There were some injuries to deal with, there was some drama and the Lakers season ended in the second round of the playoffs at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, which in Los Angeles is a big disappointment.
Mike Brown joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Josh and Charod to talk about how tough it has been for him to watch the playoffs this season, whether coaching the Lakers was what he expected it to be, if he thought his team was good enough this season to win a championship, whether Andrew Bynum is coachable, the difference between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and what it was like coaching LeBron.
How tough it has been for him to watch the playoffs this season:
“It took a while. I had a hard time watching the semi-finals. I shut down and tried to watch most of the first game last night but there’s still that taste in your mouth that kind of frustrates you when you watch games, especially at this point in the year.”
Whether coaching the Lakers was what he expected it to be:
“It’s a lot different than what you’re expecting. You can anticipate what the job is going to be like when you’re out in LA and I imagine New York probably has to be the same but I don’t think until you get into the seat and the season progresses and you have to deal especially with the media, it’s a great media, it’s a pretty knowledgeable media but because there’s so many different outlets out here and they compete very hard against one another and every little thing turns into a big story that you have to manage at times so that everybody can sort of stay together.
For me that was probably the toughest part to adjust to or deal with. Being in Cleveland you had the national media cover you and so on and so forth but they were only worried about one guy and then they worried about whether you won or lost. At times they didn’t care when Sasha Pavlovic stubbed his toe. They didn’t say he fell down a flight of steps because he was fighting his girlfriend. From that standpoint it was different from what I expected but other than that, as a family we really enjoy being out here and I enjoy the entire group and the organization. The organization is terrific. It’s a good group of people to work with.”
Whether he felt the Lakers had a chance to win a championship:
“I felt like we had a chance to win a championship, yes. I felt like the roster was good enough. I thought especially down the stretch when there were two to three minutes left in the game if not a little bit more, especially in that fourth quarter at times we didn’t hit timely shots and they did. That kept them encouraged throughout the course of the game and kept them in the game and got them over the hump at times. Defensively we had made some mistakes, especially down the stretch that you wish you could take back and try to clean up or do a little better job of just because they’re so talented and they can hurt you in a lot of different ways. You have to be almost perfect. You do look back, you do have regrets here and there, you do wish this would’ve been a little bit better or you could’ve gotten a little more from here or there but at the end of the day we did get beat, obviously they were a better team and hopefully
If Andrew Bynum is coachable:
“Yeah. He is. Again that is another thing you bring up is the fact that every little thing that he did or that happened between he and I turned into a huge story. That’s what the funny thing about this job is, I’ve had players in the past that I thought had taken a bad shot and I pulled them out of the game and sat them down for awhile then I put them back in and if they were playing well I would keep them in and if they weren’t I’d take them out but that would basically be the end of the story.
He took that three at the top of the key and yes, is he capable of making that shot? Yes he probably is. I’ve seen him shooting it messing around in practice with the fellas and stuff like that and he has a very good stroke for a guy, 7-1, 7-0 or whatever he is. He can shoot the ball. He’s a really good shooter but I thought during just that point in time it was out of context or I felt it affected the rhythm of the game because no one was expecting that to happen. I took him out, put him back in, he didn’t play well so I took him out of the game and it was the biggest story going forward from then on.”
On the differences between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James:
“They’re two different types of people first of all and two different personalities. They’re both great players in their own right and Kobe is going to go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest because he has five of them right now and he has a chance to get more. Until LeBron gets to the point where he’s collecting the hardware that Kobe has you have to always probably give the advantage to Kobe in that regard. That’s how people look at Phil Jackson. It’s the same thing. Whether this guy or that guy was a better X’s and O’s coach or whatever it’s hard to compare anybody else to Phil because of the number that he has. Both of those players are great players and they’re different types of players also as well as people.
They bring different things to the table. I think one of the things that Kobe does extremely well and I don’t know if anybody does it better, his medium game is off the charts. That second level of scoring is almost impossible to duplicate. You talk about Kobe and then the next guy that comes to mind is Jordan. Jordan was that way, a guy that scored very well on the second level whereas you look at LeBron and the first thing that comes to mind for me is his passing ability. At 6-8 with his size and all that other stuff, his vision and his ability to pass the basketball is Magic Johnson-like. Two different players with two different types of games but they’re both in their own right going to impact this game in a lot of different ways to where their legacy will be talked about forever.”
How he feels about his time coaching LeBron:
“I had a great time coaching LeBron and I’m in the seat that I’m in right now because of, mainly because of him. He had a lot to do with it. We had a great relationship and hope that a guy that works as hard as he does, because he does work hard, a lot of people don’t understand the time and effort he puts into the game, but you hope that a guy that works as hard as he does and has taken the criticism that he has taken, gets one. Now, not at the expense of the Lakers but with us sitting at home, if he gets it then great, you like to see it. If he doesn’t he will keep working hard and I’m sure it will happen someday for him.”