Lakers Players Respect Coach Kobe Bryant More Than Mike Brown? (VIDEO)
As if filling the shoes of 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson wasn’t enough, first-year Lakers coach Mike Brown appears to be losing his credibility in the Lakers locker room. With his star player injured, we are beginning to see something that has to be a little concerning for the former NBA Coach of the Year Award recipient.
By the looks of it, it appears that players seem to be responding better to Kobe Bryant as an assistant coach than they have to Brown’s directions all season long. Many observers believe that Brown’s coaching future in LA-LA Land could end up being a one-hit wonder should the Lakers fail to perform better than the intra-city rival Clippers in the upcoming NBA postseason.
With a handful of games remaining in the 2011-12 NBA regular season, we are gearing up for what should be a tight race for the Pacific Division crown. The Lakers have dominated the Pacific winning it the last 4 years. But now, the neighboring Clippers are here to make things interesting for the Purple and Gold.
After their victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, Chris Paul & Co. have positioned themselves just a single game behind the Lakers. With the Western Conference leading San Antonio Spurs taking on the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers tonight, the gap between these intracity rivals might be trimmed to a mere ½ game by night’s end.
Monday night’s win over OKC assured the Clippers a trip to the 2012 NBA postseason for the first time in years. The arrival of “That other team in LA” is a huge step towards changing the dynamics of the Western Conference postseason picture as a whole.
Just think about how amazing would it be for SoCal fans to see the Lakers and Clippers meet in the Western Conference Finals. And if you’ve ever witnessed a game between these bitter rivals, then you would perfectly understand that scenario.
“It’s going to be fun and exciting, regardless, when it comes to the West,” Chris Paul said after last night’s 92-77 victory over OKC. “There’s so much battling and jockeying for position right now. I think, for us, we just want to keep winning games and see how high we can move up the standings.”
For the division-leading Lakers, they improved to 4-1 without Bryant, defeating the Dallas Mavericks in overtime Sunday night. The Black Mamba’s absence may actually be a blessing in disguise for this team, as everyone seems to be getting involved offensively and grasping things better. Just ask the Spurs, who were whooped pretty good last week at home against this Lakers team, which has raised many eyebrows with their play of late.
“They played great and beat us to death,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “There’s nothing else you can say about it.”
With Metta World Peace scoring a season-high 26 points, and Andrew Bynum a career-best 30 rebounds to go with his 16 points and 4 blocked shots, the short-handed Lakers stunned San Antonio, 98-84. Pau Gasol has done a tremendous job of taking on the role of the leader in No.24’s absence, as the Spaniard is averaging 22 points per games over the last five.
“Metta, Andrew, myself, we all feel we have to step up in Kobe’s absence,” he said. “A different guy can do it every game.”
It has certainly been a group effort that has turned this once-underestimated group into a team no one wants to face in the first or second round of the 2012 playoffs. It sure seems as though the players have gotten a better understanding of the new system over the last few games better than the results Mike Brown has had all season long. Could this mean that the players have more respect and are willing to listen and trust it better when it’s coming out of Bryant’s mouth?
Perhaps, but that also could be debated for weeks by both sides. Nevertheless, one thing is certain: it clearly doesn’t hurt to have a guy, who’s normally on the court all the time, all of the sudden be sitting on the bench watching and breaking down plays like Bryant has. Under the new alias of “Coach Kobe” or “Coach K” is still finding a way to have an impact on games even when sitting on the bench.
Is coaching in Bryant’s future?
Not too many of the great ones have been able to make that transition… just ask another Laker great, Magic Johnson!
“That’s Coach Bryant now. He’s like a coach over there,” said the newest Laker, Ramon Sessions. “He’s over there helping everybody out and drawing stuff up on the board. He’s pulling for us over on the side and he’s helping us out tremendously.”