The Mike Brown Era officially begins Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m., when he's introduced to the media at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo.
Don't expect to be dazzled with wit or one liners. As ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst told us in a recent podcast, Brown isn't someone who wins press conferences. Disappointing for us-- when you cover them for a living, having people at the center looking to "win" is welcome-- and perhaps for you, too. No question, L.A. as a city values entertainment and personality, something the guy Brown replaces certainly understood.
Just one of the many ways in which the times they are a' changin'.
Nobody knows whether Brown has the makeup to succeed as Lakers coach (you'll find people on both sides of the argument, though more skepticism than optimism) or if ultimately he'll prove himself the best of the available candidates (see previous parenthetical) one thing is abundantly clear: The generally negative reaction from fans and media alike surrounding his hire means Brown will have little, if any, of the honeymoon period usually afforded a new coach. Following Phil Jackson, it likely wouldn't have been all that substantial even if he was more popular, but from moment one people will be looking for signs Brown is in over his head.
The narrative has been established. As Brown well knows (see the perception his Cleveland teams were consistently bad offensively, despite clear evidence to the contrary) once narratives are written, they're difficult to edit. Brown will have to prove he knows what he's doing, rather than be exposed as someone who doesn't. The former is a lot tougher, because any number of things are capable of undoing the work of perfectly good coaching.
Gravitas, something Jackson oozed and Brown lacks, brings more benefit of the doubt.
Fair or unfair isn't the issue, and many of the same questions would have undoubtedly impacted the other available candidates. To a certain degree, Brown has been penalized for being a flawed option chosen from of a crop of other flawed options. Much of the criticism projected on to him is actually a critique of Jim Buss and the process bringing Brown to Los Angeles, something Buss himself noted in an interview with the L.A. Times.
In that regard, he's correct.
All Brown did was allow himself to get hired by the premier basketball franchise on the planet and earn over $18 million for the privilege. Hard to fault him for that.
Unfortunately, as Dr. Buss continues moving to the background, the fairly rampant speculation (some might say cynicism) regarding Jim Buss' ability leading the franchise does Brown little good. Today, Brown is the wrong coach hired by the wrong guy, someone threatening the incredible legacy established for the Lakers by Dr. Buss. Again, the narrative may not be entirely fair, but fair isn't a driving force. Plenty of people will look for fault in Brown in order to find it in Jim Buss.
For the first time in a long time, trust in the coach and highest levels of the front office isn't implicit. Under the best of circumstances, coaching the Lakers is a difficult, pressure filled job. The context in which Brown assumes it only makes it harder.