Mike Brown vs. Kobe Bryant: Changing of the guard with L.A. Lakers
Although I lament the day it changed, this just isn't the case in the association: See Dwight Howard in Orlando.
In the NBA, superstars often times have more authority and input into the direction of the organization than coaches or general managers. Kobe Bryant may no longer be the biggest superstar in the NBA, but he may be the most respected. His floor-cred is second-to-none; he still holds the rings, title and heavyweight belt - especially within the Lakers organization.
Listening to coach Brown made me think of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Mr. Whitman penned a collection of poems in 1855 that were so beautifully written and poignant they would be discussed and proclaimed in academia for centuries, even today.
Walt believed in Utopia. He believed there would be a day where we evolved to a point of such enlightenment it would bring peace, love, joy and harmony here on earth. Although brilliant and talented, Mr. Whitman was not a realist.
Apparently, neither is Mr. Brown.
Kobe runs the show in L.A.; he has for a long time - even under Phil Jackson. So why would Mike Brown speak so openly about the control he has over his team? What is he trying to accomplish? Is this pure bravado coming from a man that sees his doom written on the wall and wants to go out his way, or does Mike Brown know something we don't?
I wonder how much of a drag Kobe - the VP of All Things Lakers - is on the front-office? It must be difficult to run an organization and make decisions based on what Kobe will think. Every strategy session, every high-level meeting around the big rectangle, every basketball decision must be weighed against the real question of: how will Kobe react to this?
This is not the way you run a basketball franchise at the highest level our species can generate. It's easy to put up with this truth when you're winning NBA championships, but it must be exhausting when you're not winning NBA titles.
Kobe Bryant is going to be 34 this year. He's been playing professional basketball since he was 18-years-old and has logged 15 years in the NBA. Although he is still prolific, how much more can he possibly have? One, maybe two years? How long can one reasonably expect Kobe to be Kobe? It is going to end for Kobe one day. Even now we see Kobe's leaves falling onto grass.
Maybe Jim Buss brought in Mike Brown for more nefarious reasons? Maybe Mike Brown was going to be the coach that moved the Lakers away from Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson? Maybe Jim Buss - the son of the good doctor, Jerry Buss - wishes to assert his own authority over this franchise and can't do it with Kobe questioning his every move? Jim Irsay felt like he needed to take back the Indianapolis Colts; maybe Jim Buss wants to do the same?
Finally, we all know Dwight Howard thinks he would look great in a Lakers uniform, and he would be the perfect piece for Jim Buss and Mike Brown to build around, but there's one problem with this possibility: Dwight Howard wants his next team to be HIS team.
How could Dwight Howard play for the Lakers with Kobe Bryant and it not be Kobe's team? As long as Kobe is in L.A. it will always be Kobe's team.
I think Mike Brown is speaking from the heart. I think Mike Brown knows the organization has his back. I think Mike Brown knows there is a changing of the guard - literally - on the Lakers' horizon.
I think Mike Brown may be a realist after all…unlike Walt Whitman.