In course of 3 days, 2 of the Lakers starters have conducted themselves on the court in a manner that was so egregious and outside of the game plan that was laid out by the head coach that it required for those players to be benched during those games.
Kobe Bryant, a 14 time All Star, 5 time NBA champion and one of the greatest players to play this game at his position was benched by coach Mike Brown Sunday night in a game against Memphis with a little less than 6 minutes to play and the Lakers down by 14 points. Kobe Bryant was the only starter pulled in the game at that time and didn’t get back until 1:51 was left in the game. The Lakers ended up losing to the Grizzlies 102-96.
Andrew Bynum is widely considered as the 2nd best big man in the game today and a 2 time NBA champion was pulled Tuesday night in the game against the Warriors with about 10 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter of a closely contested game after he took an ill advised and uncharacteristic 3 point shot. Mike Brown did not call Andrew Bynum’s number for the rest of the game as the Lakers went on to beat the Warriors 104-101.
Lakers head coach Mike Brown, who made the decision to pull both players during each game, is a relatively young coach in the first season with a new team and has had no accomplishment greater than a 4 game sweep in his sole NBA finals appearance.
This is not a matter of looking at the actions of the players and determining if it warranted them being yanked out of the game. In the case of Andrew Bynum’s action of heaving a 3 point shot early in the 3rdquarter of a still closely contested game is definitely a cause for some type of disciplinary action from the coach. The situation was further exacerbated by Bynum stating in post game interviews that not only did he not see a problem with the shot selection, he plans on making it a part of his game in the future regardless of the coaches wishes. “I guess don’t take 3’s is the message. But I’m going to take some more,” Bynum said. “I just hope it’s not the same result. I hope that I make it.”
This is a matter of two accomplished players, two that are vital to the success of the team, responding in a way that would suggest that they have little respect for the person put in charge of leading them. Bynum’s complete lack of contrition after Tuesday’s game is more evidence that he has little regard for Mike Brown as an authority figure or someone that deserves his respect.
That is a major problem and one that could destroy what ever championship aspirations the Lakers might have for this season.
These two occurrences of insubordination and lack of respect by Lakers’ players has us looking back at other events that might reveal that the players are slowly growing tired of Mike Brown and that the head coach might be losing control.
After a win against Portland in February, it was reported that Kobe and Derek Fisher organized a player’s only meeting to discuss some of the issues that had been surrounding the team at that time. While I have found no quotes from players of what was actually said in the closed door meeting, it has been reported from sources that some of the issues that were troubling the players and was discussed were Mike Brown’s micro managing type coaching style, player rotation, long practice time and minute distribution during games.
Taking the recent events with Bynum and Bryant along with this closed door players only meeting focused mainly on Mike Brown brings to mind many questions.
How many times have the players on the court deviated from the plays that Mike Brown has game planned or called in a huddle?
How many of the players are rolling their eyes when Mike Brown writes up a play in a timeout or provides in game critique?
Have many times has a player on the court turned a deaf ear to Mike Browns direction from the sideline?
In and of itself, these 2 occurrences of defiance and disrespect of Bynum and Bryant might have little significance in the course of an entire season with a veteran laden team that is on a focused and determined path to a championship.
However, taking the 2 incidents together along with players only meeting can be signs of the players’ negative mindset and attitude of the coaching staff that has festered all season and is just now starting reach its boiling point.
It could possibly be that this ship is starting to spring leaks that can no longer be quickly patched up so that it is not visible to onlookers. Leaks that are now so large that they are possibly beyond repair.
Regardless, Mike Brown is the captain of that ship and if he is unable to right it in time we can be looking at a Lakers season that is sunk. The way it is looking right now, it could be that some of the Lakers’ players have already abandoned that ship leaving Mike Brown to take the dive himself.