It's worth remembering that one or two bad apples don't spoil the whole bunch, and that the actions of a few sad, angry jerks don't illustrate the feelings and behavior of an entire fan base. Still: Some Los Angeles Lakers fans seem like they need to take a deep, cleansing breath and get their heads together.
One day after news broke that a Lakers fan had pepper-sprayed a Utah Jazz fan following L.A.'s Wednesday night loss to the Utah Jazz — a defeat that dropped the team to a Western Conference-worst 1-4 record and left star guard Kobe Bryant seething on the bench and in the locker room — Janis Carr of the Orange County Register shares another dispatch from the lunatic fringe. Apparently, a disgruntled Laker fan located and shared the Twitter handle of Elijah Brown, the son of embattled Lakers coach Mike Brown. As news of the teen's Twitter began to circulate, regrettably but predictably, the son bore the brunt of fan frustration at his father's early season performance.
[...] some fans' ire Wednesday was directed at Brown's son, Elijah, who plays basketball at Mater Dei High. The Lakers coach, though, had no idea his son had received threats on Twitter despite having a friend monitor his son's account.
"That's news to me," Brown said after Thursday's practice. "I will alert Lakers security.
"That's the tough part about this business. To go after somebody's family or something like that is, in my opinion, just ridiculous. It's stupid, crazy, whatever you want to call it. They [family members] have nothing to do with what's going on right now."
A trip through Elijah Brown's mentions reveals a number of angry, pointed comments, ranging from innocuous armchair-coaching ("mind tellin your pops that jamison is old and hasnt played sf in a decade") to mean-spirited calls for his dad's job ("When I go to bed tonite...i'll pray Mike Brown gets fired..he sucks that bad"), and worse.
It's possible that some trolls deleted their violent tweets after realizing that they might be held accountable for them (as a Massachusetts high school student was after firing off racist tweets about Washington Capitals winger Joel Ward back in May), but while some coverage has mentioned Brown receiving "death threats," no messages presently appearing in his mentions actually threaten him — considering people wrote stuff like "I hope your family gets murdered" to Kristen Blake, wife of backup point guard Steve Blake, after he missed a potential game-winner in Game 2 of the Lakers' playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder back in May, the outpouring of vitriol hasn't been as bad as it could be. (Thank heaven for small mercies, I suppose.)
Kristen Blake and Daniel Artest, brother of Lakers forward Metta World Peace, came to Elijah Brown's defense, chastising those lobbing hateful messages at the kid for taking things too far and too seriously, which is A) kind of them, B) totally correct analysis of such awful behavior and C) unlikely to change much of anything, unfortunately. As I wrote after the Blakes received their horrendous threats, when you open the door to social media services like Twitter and Facebook, all the good stuff that comes with widespread, unfettered communication can be mitigated by some really negative and miserable detritus. Elijah Brown's just the latest victim, but he won't be the last, and if the Lakers continue to struggle under his father's watch, he'll keep reading the kinds of things no one should have to read.
That said, speculation continues to mount that if the Lakers continue to struggle under his father's watch, they won't be under his watch for much longer. ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported Friday that an "unsuccessful homestand" this coming week would put Brown "in immediate jeopardy" of being relieved of his duties:
Sources told ESPN.com that the Lakers, while having publicly expressed support for Brown in the wake of a 1-4 start, have privately grown sufficiently concerned about the state of the team to the point that management is prepared to look seriously at a coaching change at this early juncture if L.A. can't take advantage of what looks to be multiple winnable games in the upcoming stretch.
The homestand begins Friday night against the banged-up Golden State Warriors, who'll be without injured center Andrew Bogut and key reserve Brandon Rush, and continues through Nov. 20 with games against Sacramento, San Antonio, Phoenix, Houston and Brooklyn.
The Lakers have had a healthy Steve Nash in the lineup for only 1 1/2 of their five games so far thanks to a leg injury, while fellow newcomer Dwight Howard has acknowledged that he's still recovering from the back surgery that brought a premature end to his 2011-12 campaign and knocked him out of the London Olympics. Kobe Bryant has also been playing through a foot ailment.
Yet sources maintain that patience in the organization is starting to erode as the wait continues for signs of improvement in the Lakers' play.
And if you have any doubt that patience has also eroded in the fan base, well, just check Elijah Brown's mentions.