- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- By virtue of his standing in NBA history and the five NBA championship rings he can choose to wear on any given night, Kobe Bryant can say things his relatively young, less accomplished coach Mike Brown cannot.
Things that former coach Phil Jackson used to say.
"I've won so I can (tell people to shut up)," Bryant said. "For Mike it might be a little tough to say that so I'll say it for him: 'Everybody shut up. Let us work. At the end of the day, you'll be happy with the result as you normally are.' "
Bryant said he's been "amused" by the criticism of the Lakers' new-look Princeton offense as the team got off to its second consecutive 0-2 start despite the offseason acquisitions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, comparing it to the team's struggles to learn the Triangle offense when Jackson came to the team in 1999.
While there are important differences between the Princeton offense and the Triangle offense popularized by Jackson on his championship teams in Chicago and Los Angeles, Bryant said the philosophies are similar enough that he has great faith it is the right system to maximize the Lakers' offensive potential.
"I don't understand," Bryant said with a smile when asked about the distress the Lakers' poor start has created amongst the city. "And I'm trying to bite my tongue and not calling them 'dumb,' which I kind of just did.
"But they've seen us win multiple championships here in an offense that was tough to learn, that was a sequence of options that weren't set plays, that took five guys getting on the same page and working together.
"They know how that stuff works, so for them to be so stupid now, for them to say, 'Oh, let Steve dribble the ball around and create opportunities for everybody, or let Dwight post up or let me iso' ... It's, I don't want to say 'idiotic,' but it's close."
Reminded that Jackson's six titles in Chicago gave him more clout when he first sold the Triangle to the Lakers and Los Angeles than Brown has now, Bryant laughed and said, "Yeah. The message changes according to who is giving it. But it's a sequence of options, it's an equal-opportunity offense, the message is the same thing.
"The only thing that changes is that now you have Mike Brown telling everybody to be patient. Where back then, it was Phil Jackson telling everybody to shut up."
Asked if that was fair to Brown, Bryant said, "It's fair because Phil obviously won and Mike hasn't won yet. But you have to look at the philosophy. The offensive philosophies. They're the same type of philosophies. People have to understand that. It's kind of funny to me to hear the arguments. A lot of people took runs at Phil, too, about the offense. What are you doing? That tells you a little bit about some of these people."
Bryant said he believes in the version of the Princeton offense for the same reasons he came to believe in the Triangle.
"The essence of the offense is everybody sharing the spotlight. Everybody being able to read and react and working as one. That takes time to do," he said.
"It's an adjustment, though. Nobody is used to playing that way. You kind of think the Princeton offense is, in some regards the Triangle before Chicago ran it, was something that was reserved for guys who ran around in little itty bitty shorts that have no talent. But the reality is, when you have talented players that are willing to sacrifice their game and to play within a structure, it makes you unstoppable."
The player who has been most affected by the adjustment to the Princeton offense so far is Nash, who is averaging just 4.5 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in the first two games.
Nash is one of the best pick-and-roll players ever to play the game, but so far he hasn't called for that option much as he tries to accelerate the Lakers' learning process with the read-and-react-based Princeton offense.
But he, too, was preaching patience on Thursday, saying he felt the team was experiencing some "paralysis by analysis" as it tried to adjust to a new way of doing things on offense. He also said this style of play "could end up being the best thing for this team."
"It is dramatically different from what I've done the last eight years," Nash said. "But I still think there's a lot of room to find a comfort in the offense.
"It's not all about how I can be the centerpiece. It's about how can we all collectively make each other better, and I think this offense provides us with an opportunity to do that, albeit, in time."
Brown also offered a full-throated defense of the Lakers' offensive scheme, but noted that offense hasn't been the Lakers' biggest issue these first few games.
"We still don't have a complete understanding of what we're doing offensively," Brown said. "When we do, it's going to be very good. Right now, it's just OK. And even with it being just OK, right now with 25 less opportunities than what we should've had (the Lakers had 25 turnovers against Portland), we score 106 points and shoot 51 percent from the floor.
"How much better do we need to be offensively to win?"
As for the criticism of the way Nash is being used, Brown reiterated that the veteran has the ability to run a pick-and-roll game any time he wants. He just hasn't done so early on for a variety of reasons.
"He can play pick-and-roll if he wants to, but even he said he doesn't want to do that anymore because it wears him out," Brown said.
"He likes the flexibility of giving it up and getting it back in other areas of the floor. Or giving it up and the ball moving and bodies are moving and he doesn't have to make a play for everybody every time down the floor."
Asked whether that was indeed the case, Nash said, "It's not that it wears me out. It's that I'm not sure right now that should be the focus right now.
"I'm very reluctant to worry about myself. I want to learn, I want to build this team up and then if I need to be more proactive and a bigger part of things, that'll come. But right now, I want to try to get the offense going, get the guys going, get everyone's confidence up and we'll find a happy medium sometime down the road. I'm not worried about myself."
As for whether he was worrying about himself, or his job security, Brown laughed it off.
"I get paid great money. I've got a great job," he said. "I wanted this job. I still want this job. So I'm OK with it."
55mMichael C. Wright