First off, the Madsen is smart. After all, he graduated from Standford and recently received an M.B.A. from the same institution just two years ago.
Second, the Mad Dog is a tireless worker. You simply don’t hang around the league for nine seasons with career averages of 2.2 points and 2.6 rebounds if you’re not. Shaquille O’Neal even went as far as saying that Madsen was the only player in practice able to stop his dominance, claiming “He used to beat me up in practice.”
Finally, while the team is preparing for life after Kobe Bryant, this move would give them the best of both worlds.
Although Bryant recently said he’d like to see Byron Scott as head coach when asked, he didn’t give the same kind of enthusiastic endorsement you’d see him give for Phil Jackson or would likely give for Mike Krzyzewski, Greg Poppovich, Doc Rivers, or Tom Thibodeau. He gave a similar kind of endorsement for Mike D’Antoni in 2012, and we all know how that went.
It’s nothing personal with Kobe, but the bottom line is that he wants to run a system offense. More specifically, he wants to run the Triangle. When Mike Brown was here, he basically convinced Brown to run an offense he knew nothing about, in the form of the Princeton (Kobe shot exceptionally well during that stretch, although the rest of the team didn’t do quite as well), in hopes to replicate some of the success the team had under the Triangle.
Now, all the coaches that partially run it are taken — Brian Shaw, Steve Kerr, and Derek Fisher — but there’s one Phil Jackson disciple left with the ability to teach and run it in a head coaching capacity: Mark Madsen.
I would have loved to see Fisher coach the Lakers, and think he and Kobe would have been on the same page as they’ve been for so many of their playing years together as Lakers, but Fish wasn’t seriously considered for the head coaching position and was quickly picked up by Phil Jackson in New York.
Although Kobe doesn’t quite have the respect and trust for Madsen that he does for Fisher, what he does have a great deal of respect for is the system that Tex Winter invented and Phil Jackson utilized to win 11 championships. For the record, I do believe Kobe has a certain level of respect for Madsen, and the two could certainly operate on the same page.
I know plenty of people are thinking “Well, Kobe’s old now, we need to move on from that system and focus more on the youth and moving forward.” Part of that is true, but for the next two seasons, it’s still Kobe’s team and the team will succeed or fail with him as the leader of the team. While I don’t see him walking over Byron Scott as he did Mike Brown or Mike D’Antoni, if he’s not fully on board with the system Scott runs, I can see him getting frustrated.
With Madsen running the Triangle more often than not, Kobe would certainly feel confident in the system and that the team is living up to its full potential. Even though the roster is still very thin at this point, I could certainly see players like Jeremy Lin and Julius Randle performing well within the Triangle as well.
Madsen could even bring in some familiar faces such as Frank Hamblen and/or Jim Cleamons as assistant coaches, if they’re interested.
In an ever-changing league, however, I wouldn’t expect Madsen to solely run the Triangle, either. However, a system predicated on utilizing high basketball IQ combined with lots of passing just helped the San Antonio Spurs win a championship while displaying some of the best basketball ever played in the Finals.
In that regard, coaches who can implement intricate “out-think your opponent” offenses are in high demand right now.
Defensively, teams often take on the mentality of their coach. Mad Dog was never considered an elite defender by any stretch, but he certainly bothered opponents and got under their skin. He always gave it his all.
Another plus for the Lakers is that his services would also likely come at a bargain compared with other, more established head coaches.
Yes, Mark Madsen has relatively little experience as a coach. But, one thing I’m certain of is that, much like he did as a player, he’ll outwork his counterparts until he gets his shot. He will one day become a head coach in this league, it’s just a matter of when.
Why not take the risk now and potentially reap the rewards?
In all likelihood, it’s not going to happen this time around, but I at least hope that whoever receives the head coaching position for the Lakers adds the Mad Dog to their staff so he can continue as an assistant with the Lakers.
Mostly everyone who reads this is going to dish out some serious verbal assault my way, but one day you’ll witness the Mad Dog become a head coach in this league and become damn good at it.
Remember where you heard it first.[divide]
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