This past November Mike Brown was fired as Lakers head coach after a disappointing 1-4 start to the season. The last we heard of Brown was after he released a brief statement following his dismissal. Without further adieu, here’s Brown’s take on his brief time in Los Angeles and working with Kobe Bryant. Mike Brown joined 790 The Ticket in Miami with The Dan Lebatard Show to discuss his feelings on Lebron James winning an NBA Championship last June, dealing with the news that the Los Angeles Lakers fired him after coaching the team for five games this year, not being surprised that Mike D’Antoni was hired to replace him, getting the death stare from Kobe Bryant and the Lakers’ offense not exactly being the Princeton offense when he coached the team.
Did you watch Game 5 of the NBA Finals last year? Where were you? What were your feelings watching LeBron James finally win a title?
“Game 5 of the Finals? [Laughs] I was probably … what does Charles Barkley and those guys say? I was probably fishing somewhere. [Stugotz: You had no interest in LeBron winning a championship?] Hey I’m happy for him. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity that I had without the time I spent with him. I did not follow the NBA Finals closely when it was on. I’d watch it, but I wouldn’t specifically sit down to watch it. I’m extremely happy for him and I think it’s a good thing.”
Did you find it personally hurtful that the Lakers fired you after five games?
“First of all, I don’t care where you work in or anybody you work for, nobody wants to be let go at any time. Don’t get that wrong. Thing about it is I get paid very good money and part of it is to deal with the public pressure that comes along with the job, in my opinion, and that’s one of them. When I went and told my sons, they were probably more upset than I was and even embarrassed, too, but the things you gotta go through because I am in the public eye, everyone is going to have their opinion on it. People go through this every day. People get their lives altered and ruined or whatever you wanna call it on a daily basis, so I don’t look at myself being any different. Ownership and management felt they wanted to go in another direction, which is their choice. That is their job. They decided to do that and from there, I am able to move to the next thing.”
Everyone thought Phil Jackson was going to replace you. Were you surprised it wasn’t him?
“I don’t know if they had an opportunity to get Phil, because I wasn’t part of the conversation. [laughs] If they did have an opportunity to get Phil, you would think that would be the direction they would go. He’s a guy that obviously has won more championships than anybody in the history of the game and he’s brought a lot of success to the organization and if you thought they had an opportunity to get that guy … I was just like everybody else. You would think that was the direction they were going to go. I know Mike D’Antoni, never having worked with him. He is a good coach. He’s had success in the past. You understand to a certain degree, because he’s coached Steve Nash, and so the relationship is there and Steve is going to be there for the next three years no matter what. There’s some things with the hiring of Mike that you understand because of the dynamics of the team or the makeup of the team, starting with a guy who’s going to be there for the next three years in Steve Nash.”
I want your best story of coaching both LeBron James and Kobe Bryant?
“I don’t know if I have anything. The first thing everybody asks me is compare the two guys. The one thing both guys are is very competitive. Now, they may go about it in different ways, but both of them hate to lose. It could be a firestorm to lose in practice … it usually is a firestorm in practice when they do lose. … In terms of a great Kobe story, I don’t know if I got one. I know I have gotten the death stare quite a bit from him. He’s got a great glare when he’s upset and I don’t think anybody has a chance to taste that when you are on the floor with Kobe. … That’s part of coaching in my opinion. You are not always going to be on the same page and Kobe and I definitely weren’t always on the same page. I don’t think there’s a player I coached where I was always on the same page with him, but I’ve gotten the stare a few times.”
What went wrong in Los Angeles? Was the ‘Princeton offense’ forced on you?
“Oh no. First of all, no. This is the sad part about it. If anybody knows basketball that understood it and watched basketball and knows basketball, they would have saw that even the ‘Princeton offense’ or the thing they saw that we were doing wasn’t the Princeton offense. You could talk to Pete Carril and his head would probably be spinning 360 degrees and a million times a minute trying to explain to somebody what we were doing. It wasn’t the Princeton offense. Now what we were doing probably a third of it was the Princeton offense, another third of it was the exact same thing that we did strong — depending where the ball went — and the last third of it was initiated by a spread pick and roll, which is basically what the Lakers are doing right now.
There were three parts to our offense and the last part of it, that was part of the Princeton. … The Princeton offense has seven or eight different parts and the part we used of it was just the low-post part. There are different action when you have a great low-post player because we wanted to be able to move Dwight Howard around and get him some different looks after ball reversals and dribbles and handoffs, with him dunking on the weak side. That’s the only part we used. It’s called the ‘Low Post.’ We had ‘Low Post’ in. We had ‘Strong’ in, which is the same thing we ran last year and what San Antonio runs with Tim Duncan. And we had an early-shape pick and roll, which is what Steve Nash did in Phoenix. Depending on the pick and roll, Steve would go make a play. … If he made a pass in a certain direction, then we were in ‘Low Post.’ If he made a pass in the other direction, it put us into ‘Strong.’ That’s basically what our offense was.”