Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lakers: The Crippling Kobe-Coach Brown Feud

The LA Lakers are a mess, off to a horrible 1-4 start, blowing games they should have won. They have more talent than the Utah, yet the Jazz bullied their way to a 95-86 win over the Lakers Wednesday night, Things are getting messier by the minute.

The reason? Star shooting guard Kobe Bryant hates coach Mike Brown.

Two sources close to two players report that what's undermining the team is the tension between Bryant and Brown. Quite simply, Kobe loathes Brown's new system, which is a form of the slow-as-molasses Princeton offense. The Kobe-Brown hostility, claim the sources, is ruining practices. Without fruitful practices and being caught up in the storm of this player-coach animosity, the team is playing badly. None of the players like the system but Kobe really, really hates it. For that reason, he's making Brown's life miserable and, in the process, disrupting the team. When Kobe is unhappy, the team suffers. Team officials have kept the lid on the tension so far but it's becoming tougher and tougher. For instance, that glare of disgust that Kobe shot at Brown at the end of the Utah loss. Some people saw it and, no doubt, are questioning what's behind it. Kobe's "everything's fine" comments after he cooled down don't ring true.

This hostility toward the coach, from Kobe, and to a lesser extent, the other players, is killing the team. They're not playing hard. They're lazy on defense. They're so unfocused they're constantly throwing the ball away, creating awful turnover stats. This is a mentally crippled team, with no remedy in sight..

But there are other problems. One is that point guard Steve Nash has been injured and could be out for at least a month. The backups, headed by Steve Blake, are modestly skilled journeymen. The Lakers might have three all-stars--Kobe, center Dwight Howard and forward Pau Gasol--but they're much less effective, particularly Gasol, without a first-rate point guard managing the offense. Also, the Lakers have a mediocre bench, which squanders or can't hold leads. Even if the players loved Brown and his system, this team, with a hole a point guard and a bad bench, would probably be struggling..

As you might expect, Laker fans are fuming. They're still caught up in great expectations. In the off-season, with the addition of Howard and Nash, the hype machine revved into overdrive, insisting that this unit could win the NBA title. So far, including preseason, the Lakers have, shockingly, won just one game, mauling the pathetic Detroit Pistons, who'd have trouble beating a top college team.

How to fix this mess? Kobe won't be happy until Brown junks his questionable system, which isn't going to happen. What about firing Brown? But is that fair with the team missing such an important piece--Steve Nash? With him healthy, Brown's system might work and the team might be winning..

In Brown's favor is that a six-game home stand, mostly with non-playoff teams, looms. Even with point guard and bench woes, the Lakers should win 3 or 4 of these. But if they don't and this friendly Staples-Center stretch is a bust, it just may be bye, bye Brown.