When Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach, Mike Brown made the decisions to bench Kobe Bryant one game and then bench Andrew Bynum the next game he made some very bold decisions. Some people might find it negative that a head coach would bench his two star players in critical moments of games, but I think Brown made his best decision yet during his tenure with the Lakers. The benching of Bryant may or may not have been warranted but I stand by Brown nonetheless. The Bynum benching made a lot more sense to me because I do not care how good he thinks he is Bynum should not be putting up 3-pointers in the middle of the game. I think the benching of Bryant and Bynum were the best decisions Brown has made all season because it was the first time he really acted like the leader of this Lakers team.
I have never really been too impressed with Brown’s coaching ability and I just thought that he was a coach who had great players. However, in these past few games Brown has shown that he can and is willing to be a head coach and make tough decisions and that is the way it should be, if not for the simple fact that he is the head coach! Bryant and Bynum may be the All-Stars of the team but they do not dictate the decisions of the team. Mike Brown never got a championship in Cleveland because Lebron James essentially ran that team; Brown wanted to keep his job so he just let James do whatever he wanted. The same thing seems to be unfolding in Los Angeles, but at least Brown has put his foot down in this moment and for that I applaud him.
If I could just briefly compare Brown to the Zen-Master, Phil Jackson; they are in no way in the same class but I have a point to make. Some people would say that Jackson only won as many rings as he did because he always had a great player much like Brown has now; the same player in fact. That might be a fair argument to make, but what separates Jackson from Brown is that he was able to manage his players and their huge egos. All of Jackson’s players respected him and Jackson did not take any of the crap that Brown takes from his players. Jackson was not afraid to bench a player if they deserved it and he did not think twice about it. All of the great coaches of the NBA will bench a player if they need to and they should do it because it is part of being a head coach.
Bryant has been benched before in his career and yes he might be upset about it but he gets over it because he knows it will not happen every night; the Lakers could not afford that. The next game after Bryant was benched he put up 30 points in a victory against the Golden State Warriors, he did not try to sabotage Brown, which he could have; it really shows how he has matured as a player. In contrast, in that same game against the Warriors Bynum was upset that he got benched and did not understand why it was not okay for a 7-footer to be taking a 3-point shot in the middle of an NBA game. I’m sorry Bynum but you are no Dirk Nowitzki. Some might say that Bynum’s defiance could be his ticket out of Los Angeles and I would agree with that sentiment. Bynum has proved time and time again that he is still immature and what he could really benefit from is some discipline.
Will Bynum and the rest of the Lakers get that discipline from Brown? Maybe, maybe not, but I think when Brown benched his All-Stars he made a powerful statement and is trying to be a better coach than he was before. It will be interesting to see how the Lakers will do from here on out in the regular season and into the playoffs.