Mike Brown has been fired by the Los Angeles Lakers according to his agent Wayne LeGarie, as first reported by USA Today Sports. Despite several marquee acquisitions during the offseason, the Lakers have struggled to a 1-4 start to the 2012-2013 NBA season. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles also tweeted that the Lakers had relieved Brown of his coaching duties.
Shortly after Shelburne and USA Today Sports reported that Brown had been fired, Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports also reported on the dismissal. LeGarie was again the source cited.
The reported regime change on the Lakers' bench comes one day after Bryant declared himself Brown's "biggest supporter." Of course, that quote came in response to questions about the so-called "death stare" that he leveled at Brown during the team's loss to the Utah Jazz.
Brown took over the Lakers for the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season and coached the team to a 41-25 record during the regular season. The team won the Pacific Division and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals before being dispatched by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Despite the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard during the offseason, the Lakers struggled mightily out of the gates in the 2012-2013 season, dropping four of their first five games. Aside from the predictable struggles to get a new lineup accustomed to playing together, Brown's Lakers lost Nash to an injury during the second game of the season.
Considering the massive personnel changes and the injury to Nash, was this enough time for the new team to gel? Was Brown the problem the problem or is he merely the scapegoat?
As John Schuhmann of NBA.com and Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk have noted, Brown's decision to implement the Princeton offense drew criticism. Amidst the losses and the criticism, Bryant supported Brown publicly. Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss also seemed to back Brown just a few days before his reported firing.
"I have no problems with Mike Brown at all," Buss told ESPN Los Angeles after the team dropped to 0-3. "He just works too hard and he's too knowledgeable for this to be happening."
As it continued to happen, Buss apparently changed his mind. An unnamed source told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that struggles with the Princeton offense were the impetus for the firing.
Although the suddenness of the move was surprising, that Brown didn't last wasn't a shock to many.
Who will step in to take the reins? Could Kobe go the player-coach route? According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the team is focused on finding an interim coach. The team plays Friday night at the Staples Center against the Golden State Warriors.
UPDATE 2:50 p.m. EST: The Lakers confirmed the firing of Mike Brown via a brief statement published at the team's official website. Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff will lead the team against the Warriors.
EL SEGUNDO - The Los Angeles Lakers have relieved Mike Brown of his head coaching duties, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff will take over as interim head coach for tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors. A search for a new head coach will begin immediately.
“This was a difficult and painful decision to make,” said Kupchak. “Mike was very hard-working and dedicated, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to make a change at this time. We appreciate Mike’s efforts and contributions and wish him and his family the best of luck.”