- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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SAN FRANCISCO -- If Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown learned anything from Sunday's 102-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, it's that even a seemingly routine substitution involving Kobe Bryant can become a point of discussion for L.A. sports fans.
But just because the four-minute Bryant benching in the fourth quarter on Sunday caused such a stir doesn't mean Brown is second-guessing his decision.
"I just decided to make the substitution," Brown said after the Lakers' shootaround Tuesday in preparation for their game against the Golden State Warriors. "That was it. Nothing else. Is it easy now to sit back and say, 'Would you do it again?' Anybody can play Monday morning quarterback. But, at the time, I probably would have done it again if the same [situation] came up. Who knows? But, I made [the decision] and to me, that was it."
With the Lakers trailing the Grizzlies by 14 with 5:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, Brown put Bryant on the bench and Metta World Peace back into the game. Bryant appeared visibly frustrated on the bench and didn't return to the lineup until the 1:51 mark with L.A. trailing by nine.
Bryant admitted that "of course" he was unhappy about being out of the game, but ultimately supported Brown.
"It's his decision to make," Bryant told reporters after the game. "He makes the decision. He's the coach. If you guys are looking for a story, I'm not going to give you one. I can't sit here and criticize his decisions. In leading this ballclub, that's something I can't afford to do. I got to have his back. I've had his back the whole season; I can't start doing something crazy now. It wouldn't make no sense."
Brown said after the game he didn't plan to address the substitution with Bryant and stayed true to his word, telling reporters on Tuesday that no conversation with Bryant about the benching has occurred.
Brown was aware of how many other conversations his substitution spurred, however.
"When I got home, my son goes, 'Dad, you're the No. 1 [trending] topic on Twitter,' " a wide-eyed Brown recalled. "I was like, 'What?'
"From that standpoint, that's the only thing that I've heard of it. I haven't read anything or seen anything, but obviously Kobe is Kobe and he is the talk of a lot of things that he does or that happens to him."
Brown said he wasn't sure if he ever made a similar substitution involving LeBron James when he was coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers, but did not believe there was anything unique about a coach taking a superstar player out of the game in that situation.
"I'm sure [San Antonio Spurs coach] Gregg Popovich took out Tim Duncan with six minutes to go before," Brown said. "I'm sure other coaches have done it. Maybe because I'm a young guy and that's Kobe [I'm being scrutinized]. I don't know. I'm sure there are other coaches that have done it."
The Lakers seemed ready to put the discussion behind them. While Brown was finishing up answering a few questions about the Bryant substitution, a smiling World Peace interrupted the scrum.
"You're wasting Coach's time," World Peace said.
"Metta World Peace, I love you, Metta World Peace," Brown said with a chuckle.