The Los Angeles Lakers firing coach Mike Brown Friday defines the difference between the terms stunning and shocking.
Its stunning any NBA coach would be fired five games into the season. Its anything but shocking that Browns tenure was headed the wrong way.
The Lakers went to a lot of trouble to do a sign-and-trade for future Hall-of-Famer Steve Nash. Nash is a master of the pick-and-roll. So then you install a Princeton offense that has minimal pick-and-roll. Huh?
The Lakers starting 1-4 is nothing like the Charlotte Bobcats going 1-4. There are three players on that roster who could end up in Springfield for a Hall of Fame induction Kobe Bryant, Nash and Dwight Howard and a fourth Pau Gasol who is among the most skilled players in basketball. The idea they looked so dysfunctional was hard to process, much less tolerate.
Theres a lot at stake financially. The Lakers signed a billion-dollar local television deal because they seemingly own Los Angeles. No NFL. Southern Cal football having a down season. The Dodgers are still rebuilding.
But theres another NBA team in Staples Center, and theyre on the rise. The Clippers have Chris Paul, a fantastic point guard, and Blake Griffin is a pretty formidable No. 2 option. When the Clippers blew out the Lakers in the first week, it had to send a message to the Buss family the kingdom was in jeopardy.
I found it funny that local television asked Kobe Bryant about his alleged death stare at Brown during a game. Television loves good video, and Bryant did look agitated. But if that got coaches fired, then Steve Smiths body language would bring a new coach to the Carolina Panthers weekly.
The reality is Browns demise stretched back to last season when it became clear they were slipping. Its one thing to not measure up to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a striking collection of talent. But the Lakers looked inferior to the San Antonio Spurs, a similarly aging team in a much smaller market.
So the Lakers aggressively upgraded their talent. Getting Nash was a coup that takes considerable ball-handling burden off Bryant. Adding Howard is the bridge to the next Lakers era, but only if they convince him this season to re-sign long-term.
Again the term lot at stake applies and the 1-4 start was inexcusable. Did Brown deserve more time? Yes in a world that is logical and fair. That doesnt necessarily apply to major-league sports and certainly not to the media caldron that is the Showtime Lakers.
Five passing thoughts on the Bobcats and the NBA:
• The Bobcats always lobby the NBA for as many weekend home games as possible. All the empty seats at Wednesdays loss to the Phoenix Suns illustrates why. Charlotte is a weekend town, so unless the Heat or Lakers show up, its a bear trying to sell tickets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
• Fun to see Bernie Bickerstaff a head coach again, if only serving as the Lakers interim guy. Bickerstaff did some good things as the Bobcats first coach and general manager. The best thing about his tenure was not throwing away valuable salary-cap space on quick fixes.
Sacramento Kings rookie Thomas Robinson drew a two-game suspension for a particularly vicious thrown elbow. When I met Robinson at the pre-draft combine in Chicago, I noticed a real edge to his personality. Thats good to a degree, but he doesnt want to build a reputation as a hockey goon.
• The Bobcats play four of the next five at home and that slate includes some very beatable teams (Washington, Milwaukee and Toronto). The comeback against Phoenix was encouraging, but they need to close the deal occasionally to keep the fans engaged.
• Who would have imagined that Vinny Del Negro was the NBA coach in Los Angeles with all the job security?