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Ball Don't Lie

Lakers once saved Warriors from hiring Mike Brown over Mark Jackson, according to report

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Mike Brown and Mark Jackson compare gestures (Getty Images)

Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown’s continued existence as a hot commodity remains baffling to us, and yet the Cavs wasted no time in securing Brown as their head coach last month just three years after firing him. Weirdly, rumors abounded that the Cavs made quick work of their coaching search, upon firing Byron Scott, because the team was worried Brown would link arms with another team looking for a head man.

Now a report out of Lakers Nation points to Lakers de facto personnel boss Jim Buss as expressing the same worries as he attempted to replace the future brother-in-law (13-time champion, as player and coach) Phil Jackson that he reportedly reviles. Brown was a candidate to take on the Golden State Warriors top gig in 2011, with West acting as a consultant and leading Mike Brown advocate, before the younger Buss swooped in to grab his guy.

From the longtime Lakers go-to guy, Mark Heisler:

Actually, it was more up to the father than the son, with Jerry still in charge in those years. Jim didn’t officially take over until 2011—after the Warriors added West–taking the lead role in the hiring of Mike Brown.

Jerry Buss’s legacy is so sterling, it’s hardly an attack to note that he didn’t get them all right. Nevertheless, Jim didn’t appoint himself. Jerry did that. Jerry may have thought that having West around, even in a merely advisory capacity, would crowd Jim out. Or it may not have occurred to Jerry at all.

[…]

When Jim Buss fell for Brown in their sitdown at the pre-draft camp in Minneapolis, the Lakers knew he was West’s pick to fill the Warriors’ vacancy. That was why they slammed the deal home so quickly, and why the price got to $4.5 million a year, more than they’re paying Mike D’Antoni.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, Brown was either a victim of circumstances, or proof that West doesn’t get them all right, either.

Of course, Mark Jackson, the coach the Warriors hired, has worked out nicely.

Indeed he has. Not only has Jackson won over some of his stauncher pre-hire critics (read: THIS GUY), but he’s now aligned his Warriors with a potential path to the Western Conference finals. Jackson’s crew still has to win three of five from the formidable San Antonio Spurs to get to that third round, so nothing’s assured, but it would still be the first time the W’s have made it to the NBA’s final four since it failed to defend its 1975 NBA title in the 1976 postseason.

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Jerry West consults with an inactive member of the Chicago Bulls (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Brown was fired just two weeks into the 2012-13 season, and though he has significant Xs and Os skills, his hiring in Cleveland has become the source of much ridicule. That’s for Cleveland fans, long used to suffering at the hands of decision-makers that don’t respect the significant karmic hand they’ve been dealt.

Warrior fans, dating back decades, have been dealt the same series of blows from the dealer. And yet they were somehow saved from a lesser fate because a well-respected NBA legend (the model for the NBA’s actual logo) was beaten to the punch by the son of the man (the late Dr. Jerry Buss) Jerry West constructed six titles with before leaving Los Angeles in 2000. Weirdly – because of his bluster and national TV resume – Mark Jackson would have seemed like the perfect coach for the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2011. And after years of hiring once-fired coaching retreads, Mike Brown would have seemed like the expected Golden State Warriors hire in 2011.

Instead, the roles were switched. Good for the Warriors. And good for Mike Brown, who is still strumming along.

Don’t feel bad for the Lakers, though. Through all of this, at some point next winter, they’ll be able to potentially field a healthy lineup featuring Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, and Metta World Peace.

Assuming Jim Buss can make it until that date without jumping the gun, again.

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