Posted November 10, 2012 on AP on Fox
(Eds: With AP Photos.) By TIM DAHLBERG AP Sports Columnist Nobody knows what might have happened had the Los Angeles Lakers been a bit more patient and allowed Kobe Bryant and his teammates some time to adjust to Mike Brown's new Princeton offense, no matter how ill-suited it seemed for their talents. Not that it really matters, as long as Phil Jackson is ready and willing to bring his courtside throne out of retirement. Kobe Bryant made that clear when asked whether the Lakers could switch gears and win quickly if Jackson returned with the triangle offense that made him arguably the greatest coach in NBA history. ''Are you doubting the Zen Master?'' Bryant said. No, and no one else should, either. Eleven NBA titles outstrips any misgivings about bringing the 67-year-old Jackson back, no matter how ignominious his ending with the Lakers was last time he was on the bench with them. It still bothers Bryant that Jackson retired after the Lakers suffered an embarrassing meltdown in being swept out of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks two seasons ago. ''He's too great of a coach to go out that way,'' Bryant said. ''That's kind of my personal sentiment.'' Around Staples Center, Bryant's personal sentiment goes a long way. Despite his protestations to the contrary, he clearly wasn't happy with Brown or his offense, as evidenced by the angry stare he gave the coach as the Lakers lost to the Utah Jazz last week. Time is running out for Bryant to get the sixth ring that will forever cement his place next to Michael Jordan when talk turns to the best players ever. He knows his best chance to get that ring and maybe even more is with the coach who was with him for the first five. Jerry Buss believes that, too, which is why he and team management wasted no time in dumping Brown, despite having to eat about $10 million in severance pay. It's a small price to pay when the Lakers are flush with new TV money and in desperate need of a contending team if Time Warner Cable is to be successful in getting DirecTV and others to pay up and carry the new channel built around the franchise. Indeed, Brown was given the hook so quickly it's fair to speculate that perhaps there was some corporate pressure coming from the company that paid some $3 billion for a 20-year deal to broadcast the Lakers. The firing came hours before the Lakers were going to play the hapless Golden State Warriors, giving them an easy win to get the post-Brown era off to a good start. That both the Lakers and their star player want that era to be led by Jackson became clear immediately after Brown was fired. Laker fans didn't take much longer to get on the bandwagon, bringing signs supporting Jackson to Friday night's blowout of the Warriors, and chanting ''We Want Phil'' in the second half. ''I can understand why,'' interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. ''The guy's got the rings.'' Jackson appears to want to be back with the Lakers just as much. Multiple reports on Saturday were that he was contacting coaches to be his assistants, and that only contract details stood in the way of his rehiring. As for Brown, well, that's what happens sometimes when you work on the big stage. Brown's biggest problem may have been that Bryant never warmed up to him, but his strange decision to implement an offense suited more for a team of journeymen than superstars undoubtedly helped speed up his demise. A Princeton offense in a Showtime town? Not with Jack Nicholson and the rest of Hollywood's elite sitting courtside, you don't. Not when there are huge television deals, huge contracts, and huge luxury tax payments on the horizon. This was a team built to win now, a team with aging stars in Bryant and Steve Nash that couldn't afford to wait to gel. Yes, Dwight Howard is still playing at about 50 percent of his ability as he works himself back into shape after back surgery, but the sum of this team was still far less than its parts. Bryant went on Facebook to claim he had a good relationship with Brown and to wish him his best. But his biggest statement may have come on the court against the Warriors, where he dominated as if to declare the Brown era was over and a new one was beginning. The Lakers can only hope this coaching change turns out as well as another early season firing did for the team 31 years ago. Paul Westhead was the coach then, but Magic Johnson was unhappy with his offensive system and asked to be traded early in the season, and Westhead was fired with the Lakers just 7-4 on the year. His replacement was an assistant named Pat Riley, who took the team to the NBA title that year and ended up coaching three more championships in LA. A content Kobe playing for the coach he admires most isn't going to make that happen by himself. He can still take over individual games, but for the season-long grind he'll need Nash to return from injury, Howard to keep improving, and Pau Gasol to play as hard as Bryant likes him to. The Lakers will also need to figure out a way to play defense, something they refused to do much of under Brown, who built his reputation as a defensive coach. It won't be an easy task, even if they get Jackson. There are no guarantees, especially when the road to any title goes through LeBron James and the Miami Heat. But if Bryant doesn't doubt the Zen Master, Laker fans shouldn't either. ---- Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Lakers fire Mike Brown: Was Kobe's 'death stare' the tipping point?

The Los Angeles Lakers announced Friday that they have fired head coach Mike Brown only five games into the season after a disappointing 1-4 start. You have to wonder if the tipping point in the decision by the Lakers front office was the "death stare" that Kobe Bryant gave to Brown near the end of Wednesday night's loss to the Utah Jazz. The video went viral and...

Kobe Bryant posts his reaction to Mike Brown’s firing on his Facebook page

Though we fully believe that Kobe Bryant knew that Mike Brown was going to be fired before today, Bryant obviously has to play like he didn’t. And in keeping up with the charade, Bryant posted a statement on his Facebook page about the firing calling today, “a tough day”. Tough day. I’ve seen coaches as well as friends come and go. No matter how many years I’ve been playing...

Kobe Bryant says he wasn’t mean mugging Mike Brown, you’re just bored

  After the Lakers loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, cameras focused in on Kobe Bryant giving someone a death stare. Most assumed, myself included that Kobe Bryant was giving that “look” to head coach Mike Brown. Kobe has since come out and said “people are bored” and he’s “too old” for this stuff, [...]

Kobe Bryant’s ‘Death Stare’ Seen by Some as Cause of Death for Mike Brown as Lakers Coach

Mike Brown lasted a shortened season and five games as the Lakers head coach before the team decided to part ways. When news broke that Brown had been fired on Friday despite reports that he would at least have the upcoming homestand to make a case to keep his job, the Internet went wild. Everyone from writers to celebrities to fans went crazy. Here is a sampling of what transpired...

Kobe Bryant & Pau Gasol respond to Mike Brown’s firing

Kobe Bryant stated his “death stare” wasn’t directed towards ex-Lakers head coach, Mike Brown on Wednesday. And that might be true. It did however offer foreshadowing of the inevitable, Mike Brown being fired. Kobe has posted his reaction to Mike Brown’s firing on Facebook: Tough day. I’ve seen coaches as well as friends come and [...]

Lakers 101, Warriors 77

Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, Pau Gasol added 14 points and 16 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers responded to coach Mike Brown's firing earlier Friday with a 101-77 victory over the Golden State Warriors. Jordan Hill scored 14 points for the Lakers, who had just a few hours to absorb Brown's dismissal after just 18 months on the job. Following a bumpy first half under...

Lakers hire Mike D'Antoni instead of Phil Jackson

The Los Angeles Lakers have hired former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni instead of Phil Jackson, reports LATimes.com. D'Antoni, 61, signed a reported four year deal that may pay him $12 million for three guaranteed seasons with a team option in the fourth year. He will join the team in a week or two after he recovers from knee-replacement surgery...

Lakers rout Warriors after Brown's firing

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, Pau Gasol added 14 points and 16 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers responded to coach Mike Brown's firing earlier Friday with a 101-77 victory over the Golden State Warriors. Jordan Hill scored 14 points for the Lakers, who had just a few hours to absorb Brown's dismissal after just 18 months on the job. Following a bumpy...

11-08 Eric Pincus Interview

From the LA Times and our Laker Insider, Eric Pincus discuses the "death stare" between Kobe Bryant and Mike Brown. Eric also gives his insight on how the Lakers have been performing this season, and what they have to improve.

Brandon Lloyd jumps over a car, Kobe Bryant style

Much like the Kobe Bryant video we saw a couple years ago, this video of New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon Lloyd jumping over a smart car is about to make the viral rounds on the Internet. Before you all scream “FAKE!!!!!” just know that Lloyd was asked about the video yesterday in the Patriots locker room and admitted that their might have been some digital tricks...

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers favor Phil Jackson to return as head coach

Tweet Reports are pointing to the Los Angeles Lakers bringing back Phil Jackson, saying there is a 95% chance Jackson will return for his third stint as their head coach. The Lakers coaching vacancy was created when the team fired Mike Brown after a disappointing 1-4 record to begin the season. Jackson led the Lakers [...]

Lakers fans chant, "We Want Phil" during Lakers/Warriors (Video)

After the Lakers fired Mike Brown yesterday, one of the names being tossed around to be his successor was former Lakers head man, Phil Jackson.During the third quarter of last night's Warriors/Lakers, fans in attendance at the Staples Center started chanting "We Want Phil" when Kobe Bryant was at the free throw line(Courtesy of Business Insider)

Mike Brown ousted from Lakers gig

Ballertainment Los Angeles Lakers fire head coach Mike Brown. Raise your hand if you DID NOT see this coming. The handwriting was on the wall for Coach Mike Brown when Kobe Bryant stared a whole in is head during Wednesday’s loss to the Utah Jazz, and even more so when heir to the throne, Jim Buss, expressed his “confidence” in Brown. So much for smoke and mirrors. After...

Dropping Links: Saturday, November 10, 2012

Some Saturday afternoon links: - NBA 2K13 was tops in sales charts for the month of October. |Pastapadre| - Kobe Bryant had a big game, propelling the Lakers to their second victory of the season, on the day the team fired its coach, Mike Brown. |Ball Don't Lie| - Here's a compilation of Charles Barkley's greatest golf hits. |With Leather| - The Knicks, some former...

Kobe Bryant death stare seals Mike Brown’s fate

Let’s be honest. The only thing better than the sports themselves sometimes is the drama that comes along with them. Not only do most of us invest the majority of our spare time in consuming the in game action of professional sports, we try like hell to absorb and revel in all of the trade gossip, team squabbles, and motive speculation that is associated with the athletes in those...
NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.