Keeping Score

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AJ Neuharth-Keusch

aneuharthkeus@radford.edu

The Los Angeles Lakers fired Head Coach Mike Brown last week after the team got off to a slow and unexpected 1-4 start.

The Lakers replaced Brown with Mike D’Antoni Sunday night.

In his first season with the Lakers last year, Brown’s squad went 41-25 and lost in the Western Conference Semifinals to the Oklahoma City Thunder in five of seven games.

Before heading to LA, Brown was head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2005-2010. He tallied a 272-138 record in the regular season and a 49-29 record in the playoffs.

Brown, only 42 years old, is one of the youngest and most successful coaches in the league.

D’Antoni is a former Coach of the Year (2005) and has taken his team to the playoffs five of his 10 years as a head coach.

Although D’Antoni is an elite and talented coach and one of the best possible replacements, the Lakers and owner Jerry Buss made a premature and unprofessional decision by firing Brown.

Firing a coach with as much potential and talent as Brown is one of the most nonsensical decisions made in NBA history. Being such a celebrated and historical franchise, it’s shocking that the Lakers would make such a decision.

Brown said in a statement “I have great respect for the Buss family and the Lakers’ storied tradition and I thank them for the opportunity they afforded me, I have a deep appreciation for the coaches and players that I worked with this past year and I wish the organization nothing but success as they move forward.”

Before hiring D’Antoni, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told the media, “…The bottom line is that the team is not winning at the pace that we expected this team to win and we didn’t see improvement. We wish Mike well and we’re sorry it ended this way. So, we’ve decided to move in another direction and make a change.”

After acquiring superstars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the off-season, the Lakers expected to be the next “dream team” and to dominate the NBA.

By not living up to the hype, the Lakers organization took drastic measures to improve the team by firing their head coach after a 1-4 start.

Former Lakers’ head coach and one of the best and successful coaches in history Phil Jackson participated in talks with the organization and was the leading candidate in the search for a new coach before D’Antoni was chosen.

Former Lakers coaches Jerry Sloan and Mike Dunleavy were also in the race for the coaching spot.

Kupchak said, “we’re not looking five or 10 years down the road. This team was built to contend this year. There’s no guarantee that this team can win a championship, but we feel they can be deeply in the hunt. We also are aware that players are under contract for another year or two, players are getting older, so our feeling is we could contend at this level for a couple years. So that’s our focus right now.”

With an aging roster (four of five starters over the age of 30), it’s understandable that the Lakers would want to act quickly. However, the firing of Brown came too quickly.

The Lakers are currently 3-4 and are excited to have D’Antoni as the new man in charge.

My prediction: with D’Antoni taking the reigns, the Lakers will eventually come together well as a team and improve their chemistry. If they stay healthy, they will win the NBA title and have one of the best records in the league.