Not Consulting Kobe in Coach Search Signifies Lakers’ Desire to Move Forward

As most people have heard already the Lakers hired Mike Brown as their latest head coach, replacing Phil Jackson. Some controversy arose over the decision yesterday when it was also announced that the team didn’t seek out the approval or opinion of their star player Kobe Bryant when making the decision. By brazenly overlooking Bryant and hiring the man that the front office thinks will have the most success in the future makes it obvious that the organization isn’t just looking to move on from the Phil Jackson era, but from the Kobe Bryant era as well.

For 15 years Bryant has been the Lakers’ biggest commodity. Yes there were the years when Shaquille O’Neal dominated the league, but deep down the front office knew that Kobe was going to determine whether or not the team would succeed beyond the year’s of O’Neal. Bryant has given his heart, soul and body to the organization. But that does not mean they owe him anything either.

Bryant has always been somewhat of a sensitive individual, even if he won’t admit it. He wants to run things his way and he gets upset when he can’t. He knows that he’s the best player on the team, so in his mind most decisions should either be his or should run through him. While he will give the media the politically correct answers saying the Mike Brown hire is good for the team and that he doesn’t need to be consulted by the front office, it’s obvious he won’t believe it. Bryant may not realize it but his career is winding down, and his ability to produce at a high level is even more questionable. As the team brings in Mike Brown to move away from Phil Jackson, it’s obvious they’re anticipating the end of Bryant’s career as well.

With all this being said, the Lakers don’t need to talk to anybody on the roster about who they’re going to hire as the next coach. The players’ job is to play and the executives’ job is to make personnel decisions. But if this was 2006 and the Lakers knew that the next five to ten years would still be controlled by Bryant, you better believe they’re at least discussing any potential hire with their best player.

Another surprising aspect of this decision is that they blatantly went away from the coach Kobe endorsed, Brian Shaw. While the Buss family stated a desire to move away from Phil Jackson’s triangle system as the main reason why, there are underlying issues as well. Bryant, as well as several other Lakers players, all stated that they wanted Shaw as the next head coach in Los Angeles. In fact, many felt Shaw was the front runner for the position until the news broke that Brown was going to get the job. So did Shaw’s close relationship with Bryant and the rest of an aging roster actually doom him in the hiring process? Or was it simply his ties to Jackson’s style that prevented him from getting his first head coaching job?

There is no question that the organization wants to get younger and quicker moving forward. The Lakers’ age was exploited during the 2010-11 season, as injuries and younger players delivered multiple knock-out punches to the L.A. roster. Moving forward the team will have to find younger players to plug in around their veteran stars, and the front office knows this. But no matter how much youth in infused into the situation the fact remains that the core group of players on the roster are all near their mid-30s. Players like Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom aren’t going to be around for much longer.

The Lakers know that in order to sustain their success and move into the future successfully they’re going to need a new look and a new style. Hiring Mike Brown proves this line of thinking. But by making the decision without consulting Bryant or the rest of the veteran players on the team the organization is making it clear that a new age of Lakers basketball is dawning, and a new head coach might not be the only roster change heading into next season.

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