Technically, Mike Brown improved the Lakers. Rather than winning zero games in the Western Conference semifinals like last year, Brown won one. However, if you ask any L.A. fan, Brown’s first season as coach was a failure. His weird relationship with Andrew Bynum was supposed to tangibilize into the big man dominating the rest of the centers in the league. He certainly has that potential, but Brown’s time in L.A. this year felt like the teacher who you have to listen to, and once you leave class, his advice and teachings evaporate.
Mike Brown didn’t hold any real weight with the team. Even when Pau Gasol failed to perform like everybody knew he would, Brown wasn’t the one trying to motivate him. It was Kobe Bryant who was making public statements about his team’s effort, reaching for any last drop of motivation left with a team as disillusioned as Pau himself.
Kobe’s tactics were to no avail. He simply didn’t have the talent surrounding him that is required to win a championship, but it’s more than just surrounding talent. Brown wasn’t dominant enough to get the best of his team. Players like Ramon Sessions and Matt Barnes struggled vehemently, and that’s partially Brown’s fault. Phil Jackson had a cerebral way of draining his players of all they have, bringing out the hero in everybody when the time called for it. That’s what a coach does, it’s more than X’s and O’s and stats, which Brown has in spades. A veteran team like the Lakers needed a reason to win another championship. They needed Phil Jackson!