Too often do sports fans pretend they know more than the coaches and general managers of the teams they follow. They pretend that they know more than guys who have been in and around the game for a lifetime and forgotten more about the sport than the average fan will ever know.
In truth, there’s a reason that those coaches and general managers have the jobs they do and the fans have to pay money to come see the games.
In general, fans are far too impatient, too little informed, fail to see the big picture and simply don’t have the basketball acumen of those they criticize.
That’s why I’ve always been hesitant to criticize coaches. They have a tough job and tend to make decisions that most fans simply don’t understand. Fans see something on the court not working and immediately want the coach to stop it, perhaps not realizing that what they’re doing is laying the groundwork for later in the season and the playoffs.
Of course, sometimes they are wrong.
When I heard that the Lakers coach, Mike Brown, wanted to run the Princeton offense I thought he was nuts. It made absolutely no sense. It’s not that I have anything against the Princeton offense. I think it’s a great offense under the right circumstances and with the right personnel. It would be great for a team like Golden State, that doesn’t have a pure PG and has good passers at several of the positions. For the Lakers, who signed the best passing PG in the league in the offseason, it made absolutely no sense. All installing the Princeton offense would do is take the ball out of the hands of the best passer in the NBA and move him off the ball, turning him into more of a shooter than a passer. While he’s certainly a great shooter, his greatest strength is making those around him better.
It also allows less talented teams to compete with more talented teams. While only Dwight Howard is in his prime, I don’t think anyone would describe the Lakers as one of the less talented teams in the league.
This is one of those decisions that really makes you wonder whether these people in charge really know what they’re doing. Perhaps those fans might have a point, after all.
Before the Lakers even played a regular season game, my friend and I bet that Brown wouldn’t last until Christmas. Christmas came a little early for Laker fans.
So next comes the replacement candidates.
While Jackson might seem like the perfect choice, there are a couple of problems. The first is that this will be his third time around with Kobe and the Lakers. He’s 67 and has struggled with health problems during the grinding 82+ game schedule. You have to wonder whether his heart will be in this one, and whether his body will hold up.
Waiting in the wings, in case Jackson decides to turn down the job, are Mike D’Antoni and Mike Dunleavy. Both puzzling choices.
On the outside, D’Antoni might seem like a great choice. He helped coach Nash to two MVPs and Phoenix to two Conference Finals, coached Howard on team USA and even played and coached in Italy, where Kobe Bryant spent much of his youth.
He’d certainly infuse the Lakers’ offense and improve their regular season record. Unfortunately, he’s never been one to emphasis offense, which might explain why he’s had more regular season success than playoff success.
Mike Dunleavy is also a puzzling choice. His NBA coaching record has not been all that impressive, but what makes his choice more puzzling is his stint as the Clippers coach, which saw him lose a power struggle and left the organization in tatters. Of his 7 seasons as head coach of the Clippers, his team made the playoffs just once, despite having some decent talent.
There s a coach who is apparently interested that would make far more sense than any of the candidates. He’s got a stellar record as head coach and took his team to the Finals twice. He’s coached a Hall of Fame PG and big man successfully. He’d get immediate respect of not only the players, but the media and fans, and he’s apparently interested in the job.
And Jerry Sloan deserves another shot at a ring more than anyone. Especially after what happened to him in Utah.