"Oh, man. I don't know where to start," laughed Lakers coach Mike Brown while assembled before the media, in response to one reporter noting it was "quite a day."
By definition, joining the Lakers means a date with the spotlight. This is the biggest team in Los Angeles. L.A. is among the biggest cities and markets in the world. The franchise is synonymous with "drama." You do the math from here.
But even if this ain't his first day at the NBA rodeo, there's no way Brown could have possibly anticipated camp kicking off quite like this, even with everything already piled high on his plate.
Forget implementing new offensive and defensive systems on the fly during a compressed season. Forget deciding between Derek Fisher or Steve Blake to start at the point. Forget developing a rapport with that Kobe Bryant guy. Forget even the unexpected development of Metta World Peace's spare tire. Dude's now dealing with the aftermath of a historically unprecedented vetoed trade, the hurt feelings of Pau Gasol and, especially, Lamar Odom, and an organization stuck in limbo. (An entire league stuck in limbo, really, but that's a problem above Brown's pay grade.)
For all Brown knows, he'll be working this season with the triple towers of Pau, LO and Andrew Bynum, a Kobe-Chris Paul backcourt, a Kobe-CP3-Dwight Howard super team, or a completely brand new scenario lurking behind door #4. That's a lot to digest, especially for a guy following in the footsteps of the most iconic coach in NBA history and inheriting a squad last seen getting swept by the Dallas Mavericks.
Thankfully, Brown is a mellow sort of fellow, who appears pretty adept at the art of taking things in stride. Whether in terms of the space he plans to allow Lamar and Pau as they sort through this confusion or not worrying too much whether he'll be coaching a team especially blessed with size or backcourt presence, Brown sees rolling with the punches as part of the gig.
"That’s what a head coach does," insisted the new guy. "He’s gotta be able to make adjustments, whether it’s on the floor or off the floor.
Asked if today provided the sense he didn't just become a part of any franchise, Brown actually shared how a different member of the coaching staff became a deer in the spotlight.
"Coach [Ettore] Messina, coming from Italy, he was the first one upstairs. "I was in my office getting ready for tomorrow’s practice and he goes, 'Whooooohhh!” I’m trying to figure out what he went 'Whooooooh” for. Maybe he had a good conversation with Kobe or something like that. And he said, 'Did you see all the cameras?' ”
I said, “Welcome to the Lakers.”
Click below the jump for more videos, plus some quotes from Brown.
QUOTES FROM BROWN
Brown, on how to handle the situation with the vetoed trade
"There's no handbook or anything out there or anything like that. You kind of just deal with stuff as you go. I'll tell you what. I've been here just short time obviously, but you just appreciate the type of character and class that's displayed early on by everybody. Stuff happens. Stuff happens in your guys' lives as well as mine and everybody else's. The big thing is if you can look somebody in the eye and say this is what it is and this is what happened, I don't know what else could happen or if anything is gonna happen. As a person, you respect that and we've all been through stuff."
Brown, on whether he expected Odom and Gasol to participate in Saturday's practice
“I don’t have any expectations right now. I’m gonna coach the guys that are here. You understand how those guys are feeling and you respect it. And so for me right now to try to get macho and tough and say this or that when those guys been through an emotional time, that doesn’t make sense. I know I’m okay giving them some time and some space and we have more than enough guys. If not, you can ask Mitch, he allowed me to hire enough coaches. One or two of them can sub in if need be.”
Brown, On how the day was for him, with all the craziness
“Most of the time, I was meeting with our coaches. I was not with Mitch and Jim Buss and those guys most of the day. I poked my head in every once in a while and kind of get updates. I was focusing on today’s practice and tomorrow’s practice and stuff like that. And yes, you’re told one thing and you think, obviously, that your team may be this way and then you’re told another thing, and your team’s not that way. But again, I look at it as, that’s what a head coach does. He’s gotta be able to make adjustments, whether it’s on the floor or off the floor.
Brown, on his approach to keeping pressure off his players
“It is my job in a leadership role to try to take as much pressure off everybody as possible. That’s what I get paid to do. I get paid to handle that and I look forward to handling it, whether it’s this incident we’re getting through, or another one, because I’m sure there’s another one that’s gonna come up, we’ll just handle it one day, one play, one shootaround at a time. Very methodically.”
Brown, on whether the Paul deal is dead or could be revived
“The thing about it is, I don’t know. Mitch will come and he’ll ask my opinion on certain things, and I’ll give him my opinion. And then for me, I want to get back to coaching. That’s what I do, so it’s Mitch’s job to keep trying to make this team better. Whatever that may mean he’s gotta figure it out. It’s my job to coach these guys, but obviously I’ll give input on whatever decisions they’ll have and at the end of the day, they’ve gotta make them.
Brown, on whether he'd envisioned Paul in a Laker uniform
Yeah, because they told me there was a good chance it would happen. So obviously, you do have to think about, as a coach, what your game plan is gonna be. But again, I feel like the thing I have to, whether on the floor or off the floor, I have to be able to make adjustments, and I feel like I was ready to do that either way.
Brown, on whether he'd rather have the team as constructed with size, or the Kobe-Paul backcourt
That’s a great question. (laughs). You know what? I came here. I like the team I have. I like all the guys on the team. I like the bigs that we have. I like the personnel that we have. But you know, at the end of the day, who knows? Things may happen. Things may chage. Positions may change. And you just gotta kind of go with it.”
Brown, on his reaction to the infamous email to David Stern from Cavs owner -- and former Mike Brown boss -- Dan Gilbert
“No offense to you guys, but I try not read any newspapers or read the Internet or watch the news or anything like that. I got this from Rick Carlisle. He always says you gotta try stay even keeled as possible. You never want to get too high, you never want to get too low, and you guys have a great way of helping guys get too high or bringing them down a little bit, so I try to avoid your guys’ work. I haven’t read it. I was sitting in my office and, this is a true story... [Lakers Media Relations Director John Black] comes into my office and he said, “Did you see the letter Dan Gilbert wrote?” I said, “No.” He said, “Wait, [I’ll} go get you a copy.” I said, “I don’t need to look at it. I’m good.”
"But I can imagine a little bit about what it’s about, because he has some passion."
(AK's note: I'll actually go out on a limb and predict the nonsense contained this email is well beyond the scope of Brown's imagination.)