After officially becoming the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Mike Brown had taken on the toughest challenge of his life and career. Replacing arguably the greatest NBA head coach of all-time in Phil Jackson would be no easy task and along with undertaking that extremely tough job, the odds weren’t in his favor.
As if the challenge of filling the Zen Master’s shoes wasn’t overwhelming enough, the Lakers fans in Los Angeles weren’t exactly welcoming. With quite a few candidates to take that job that fans of the storied franchise were pulling for like fan-favorite Brian Shaw, Rick Adelman and Jeff Van Gundy, the consensus was that Brown didn’t have much of a chance to land arguably the most sought out coaching job in the NBA.
With that being said, Lakers fans were shocked and very disappointed in the team’s decision to hire Brown over Shaw and the other candidates. Despite instantly having a target on his back coming into his first season as the Lakers head coach, Brown has exceeded expectations and won over the fans.
Mike Brown described the difference coaching in Los Angeles opposed to Cleveland with the Cavs via Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com:
“Obviously the media attention that this team gets, whether it’s the regular season or not, is extraordinary compared to other teams,” he said. “We dealt with the national-media coverage in Cleveland because of LeBron, but at the end of the day, they really just cared whether or not he played well or not, whether he took the last shot or he passed the last shot or whether we won or lost.
“Here, if a guy like Christian Eyenga jaywalks, it might make the front page of a newspaper or something and people are going to cry, ‘What are you going to do to him as a coach? Are you going to discipline him like he’s your son?’ That type of stuff is a lot bigger here no matter what player it is than out in Cleveland or someplace else.
“I can’t describe it. You have to go through it. I thought I had a good feel of it, dealing with it in Cleveland with LeBron. But it’s different.”
So despite all the added pressure of coaching in Los Angeles and filling the shoes of 11-time NBA champion head coach Phil Jackson, Mike Brown has earned the respect of his players and is making a profound impact on Lakers fans.
Obviously, there is a long way to go before Brown really cements himself as the right decision to take over for the Zen Master, but he’s gotten off to a great start. If Brown can continue his success in the NBA playoffs and win an NBA title this season, the 42-year-old will have proven all his doubters wrong. Not only will Brown have proven his doubters wrong be he will have begun writing his own legacy in L.A. while stepping out of the shadow of Phil Jackson.