When Mike Brown took over as Los Angeles Lakers head coach during last year's postseason, the immediate reaction centered around Brown and Kobe Bryant's lack of a previous relationship. Unlike longtime Laker assistant (and former Bryant teammate) Brian Shaw, Mike Brown was a Laker outsider. Famously, at the time at least, Bryant and Brown did not get in touch with each other before the NBA's lockout made it league-illegal for the two to do so.
Following that was the questions about Brown's ability to stand up to Bryant. Kobe isn't in his prime anymore, but he's not far off. And he can put up nice enough numbers while dominating the ball to justify dominating that ball. Even if dominating it means what could be a top offense is relegated to middle of the pack in efficiency ratings as big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum go without touches. Early on, with Bryant firing away and Brown pretending to only care about coaching defense, it appeared as if Kobe would have his way. Now we've got a weird one, though, as the Lakers coach sat Bryant for good with the Lakers facing a comeback-able 14-point deficit with half of the fourth quarter to go against Memphis on Sunday night: