Tuesday , Mar , 27 , 2012 Matt Formica

Mike Brown Benches Kobe: Can He Lead the Lakeshow?

In an October 2011 interview with Esquire magazine, coach Mike Brown was quoted saying, "You always hear all the talk about team chemistry.  I used to think, Dang, what do they mean by that?  Chemistry is so broad.  So I tried to find the simplest way to define chemistry.  To me, chemistry equals trust." 

This is an especially interesting quote to me now that we’re over halfway through the 2011-12 NBA season and we’re able to look back and ask ourselves, "Has Mike Brown been the best chemist?"  It’s games like last night’s loss against Memphis that make me question.  I don’t think there’s any question he has plenty of "chemicals" (aka great ball players) to use.

With a little less than six minutes to play in a close game, Coach Brown called timeout and sat Kobe Bryant.  He subbed in Metta World Peace for some defense and then with 1:51 to go, finally put Kobe back in the game.  It was too late for a comeback, however, and the Lakeshow ended up losing by six. 

"I treat him the same as everybody most of the time," Brown said after the game.  And while I give him credit for establishing his own way of coaching, I don’t agree with sitting Kobe Bryant four of the last six minutes of a close game in the second half of the season.  You don’t need coaching experience to know that you need Kobe in the game in that situation.  And you certainly don’t need to be a coach or a chemist to figure out that a substitution like that might not bode well for team chemistry, something Coach Brown is still clearly figuring out how to manage with this team.  I can imagine it’s going to be hard to build trust when you’re down 13 points in the last few minutes of the game and decide to sub out your best offensive player.  (On a side note, I never had more respect for Kobe Bryant than I did last night when he decided not to lash out against Brown to the media following the game).

You don’t have to like the Lakers to know that Mike Brown has all the "chemicals" a team needs to build that trust he was referring to and succeed.  They have Kobe Bryant, one of the best to ever play the game and currently the league’s leading scorer.  They have two of the premier centers in the game in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.  One is better at the top of the key, another on the low block.  An extremely difficult combination to defend.  They have one of the best defenders and grittiest players in NBA history in Ron Artest/Metta World Peace and with the recent acquisition of Ramon Sessions, now have a solid point guard to distribute the ball (which other than a small forward, was the main void they needed to fill).

And from what I’ve read about and seen from Mike Brown, he’s no slouch either.  He was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2009.  He took the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007 for the first time in their franchise history.  He won a championship in 2003 with San Antonio as their assistant.  The man has been successful.

But the question is whether he’ll be successful in LA.  You can take away the triangle offense and bench your best player but forgive me for asking, with all these chemicals, where’s the chemistry?

Questions or comments?  Get at me Hoopsvibers!




Image Source:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/2447556740/sizes/m/in/photostream/