When Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant were first getting to know each other, Bryant was pleasantly surprised. Dave McMenamin reported on ESPNLosAngeles in mid-December:
"What I've heard about him (before this season) was he was a pushover, he doesn't say what he's thinking and all this other sorts of stuff," Bryant said. "I haven't seen that at all. He's been the complete opposite. He's been detail oriented, he's been up front and open and honest. He praises guys when they do well, he jumps on them when they're messing up right away."
"He does that with me, he does that with Pau, he does that with (Devin) Ebanks," Bryant said. "There's no difference. I've been extremely, extremely surprised and very, very pleased with that."
"I can tell how much he wants to because you can see how hard he works," Bryant said. "In the film session, he's already gone over the film many times before. There's no wasted energy, there's no wasted time. He's in here working and that makes you want to win for him that much more."
Although the Lakers have endured some early bumps, it looks like the coach-star relationship continues to evolve nicely. Mike Trudell describes, on the Lakers official website, how Brown and Bryant handled Sunday's six-of-28 debacle in Denver: By watching the entire game together on the flight home.
The two weren't even done watching the tape by the time the flight landed nearly two hours later, at 11:30 p.m. PST. Instead, as the last of the staffers (me) eventually walked past the middle section, Brown and Bryant remained transfixed to Brown's lap top. That said, with a few exceptions, Brown had little problem with the shots Bryant took.
"There were a couple of times on the tape where I pointed out, yes, there's a double team and make the pass, and he pointed it out himself," Brown continued. "Obviously you'd like him to make four or five more shots, which he could have easily done. It's not just coming from Kobe, it's the entire team trying to figure out where are guys going to be, when are they going to be open and how do I get them the ball."
All NBA head coaches watch tape with their players, and Brown certainly has to rank among the most avid among them, but it's not necessarily common for a coach and his best player to literally break down an entire game's worth of action. In fact, Brown admitted that in his five years in Cleveland, he didn't once watch an entire game with his star, LeBron James.
That's not to say they came out of the session with Bryant eager to pass to efficient scorers like Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Bryant made clear his shot selection has never been up for discussion, telling reporters: "If you're asking me if I'm going to shoot less the answer is no. It starts with me. I do what I do. We play off of that and that's not going to change."