Kobe Bryant fine with coach's criticism
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It took all of one preseason game before new Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown criticized Kobe Bryant to the media, calling Bryant "just as guilty as everybody else at not contesting shots" in the Lakers' 114-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
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What could have become a bump in the road for Bryant and Brown's budding relationship as player and coach actually seemed to do more good than harm.
"That's his job," said Bryant after practice Tuesday. "I'd be upset if he was just letting me skate through things. You make mistakes and the coach's responsibility is to point those out. If he can't point that out to me, he has no chance of pointing that out to anybody else."
Even though Bryant has been around Brown at training camp for less than two weeks, his preconceived impressions of Brown have already begun to change.
"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."
Brown said that pointing out a player's mistake is part of an effort to improve as a team, not to ridicule or belittle.
"I look at it as coaching and that's what (Lakers owner) Dr. (Jerry) Buss pays me to do," said Brown. "He pays me to coach this team and if I was afraid to coach this team, I shouldn't be here. It's as simple as that. This business is a fiery business. You got a lot of different personalities and that's part of being a head coach, you got to be able to juggle, maintain or find the balance to be able to work with the personalities. I don't look at it as criticism, I look at it as coaching and if I didn't do it, I'd be stealing."
Despite Bryant's credentials as a five-time champion, two-time Finals MVP, one-time regular season MVP and 13-time All-Star, he insists he is not beyond reproach.
"We're here to be coached. I'm here to be coached just like everybody else," Bryant said. "It's important for everybody to understand that. If I make a mistake, the coach's job is to correct that. You can't be sensitive, you can't be a baby. You're here to win."
The Lakers reviewed film of Monday's loss for close to an hour on Tuesday, according to Brown. When they analyzed how the Clippers ended up shooting 48.8 percent from the field, 46.4 percent from 3 and scoring 29 points off the Lakers' 21 turnovers, every player shared part of the blame.
"If you made a mistake (on the film), it wasn't that you got bashed or anything like that, but you got coached," Brown said. "Whether it was Josh (McRoberts), or Pau (Gasol), or Andrew (Bynum), or Metta (World Peace), or Kobe, or Fish [Derek Fisher]. It was good."
Bryant has been very accepting of Brown's equal-opportunity criticism (or coaching) style.
"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."
The Lakers co-captain said he has worked together with Brown to lead the team in harmony with one another.
"We balance each other out very well. I'm myself. So is he. We wind up complementing each other extremely well," Brown said. "He and I communicate all the time. That's the key, to make sure we're on the same page and we are. We talk openly and freely all the time. Sometimes a coach can't continue to preach the same message every single day to players. So that's where I come in. I do that for him. The message has to be consistent."
The experience for Bryant of being coached by Brown is far different than it was for him with the last guy to man the sidelines, Hall of Famer Phil Jackson. But, that's to be expected.
"Phil talked a lot less. He just kind of nodded and whatever," Bryant said with a smile. "Coach Brown and I, we have open discussions all the time."
None of those discussions have centered around Brown's personal goal of winning his first championship as head coach after failing in his first attempt when his Cleveland Cavaliers were swept out of the Finals by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007.
But Bryant, who has stated over and over again that his only motivation at this point in his career, 16 seasons in, is to add to his ring collection, said he can already appreciate Brown's desire.
"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."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.