When the Lakers announced that Mike Brown would be their new head coach, I knew that this was just a conflict waiting to happen. Bryant is one of the best basketball players who ever lived. Unfortunately, for him and the rest of us, he is also one of the most self-absorbed and petulant. Bryant felt that his talents were so unique that the rules that other athletes had to follow did not apply to him. He was gifted. He was special. He was entitled.
The Lakers organization was thrilled with his performances as a basketball player and ecstatic that Staples Center was always sold out. Previous Coach Phil Jackson was reported to be earning about $10 million a year to coach the team and to babysit Bryant. He was ready to retire anyway, so this was a deal that he could live with. It did not appear that he was obsessed with winning another championship. Been there, done that.
So, with the majority of the population of Southern California prostrating themselves before Bryant, Coach Brown accepted the job of coaching him. The problem that he faced is that Bryant does not want to be "coached" because he thinks that he already knows everything. It seems that he also feels that he alone is entitled to do whatever he wants to do, whenever he wants to do it.
Coach Brown had some critical decisions to make. Dare he risk coming into town, and then trying to subject Bryant to some of the rules that the other players must follow? Would that work? Or, would Bryant simply rebel, and get him fired? Alternately, should he work to gain Bryant's confidence and cooperation, so that he could successfully coach the other players?
Fate stepped in to give Coach Brown another option. Bryant suffered a serious injury to his left wrist. Ordinarily, this kind of injury will sideline an athlete for at least three weeks. However, Bryant wanted to ignore the injury and continue playing in the games, and that is what he did. It seems to me that Coach Brown had the opportunity to not allow Bryant to play for about three weeks. He then could have used that time to install his system of play with the other members of the team. Bryant would have just had to sit and watch, and to not feel so indispensable. History has shown us that many teams continue to win, even when their star player is injured and unable to play. I suspect that would have been the case for the Lakers. Then, when Bryant was able to return to the team, they would already be playing the game in the manner that the coach wanted them to do. Therefore, he would have been less likely to continue to try to do things his own way.
However, like everyone else in this area, Coach Brown allowed Bryant to have his own way. The reality is that no one prepares harder or plays the game with as much determination as Bryant does. The problem is, despite all of his talent and effort; he often unintentionally sabotages himself and his team. In addition, it seems to me, he expects to be the high scorer for the Lakers, in at least 99% of their games. I do not think that he would be willing to remain on a team if, for example, Andrew Bynum becomes the scoring leader. Recently, Bynum scored 30 points in a game, and Bryant scored only 18. This is an unusual occurrence for the Lakers. In the next game, Bryant and others rarely threw the ball to Bynum, and he had only 5 shot attempts. That should teach him to not score 30 again.
In a recent game against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers were behind in the score. With about 5 minutes left in the game, Coach Brown did what had previously been unthinkable. He took Bryant out of the game! Bryant was surprised and disappointed, and the fans were stunned. Neither Coach Brown nor Bryant has had much to say about it so far. The apparent reason for Coach Brown's action was that he was not satisfied with the defensive effort that Bryant was making.
Things are relatively peaceful at the moment, like the calm before a huge storm. Regrettably for the Lakers and their fans, this looks like it is just the beginning of the beginning. None of us are exactly sure what will happen next, but we do know that it will not be dull.
TIGER WOODS - It has been nearly 3 years since Woods has won a tournament. I was afraid to watch him on Sunday, and I was also afraid not to watch. On Sunday morning, he had a one stroke lead, which is usually enough to guarantee a victory. However, I must confess that I was concerned that Woods might never win again. I had work to do, and I was determined to complete my tasks, and only glanced at the television from time to time. Woods was playing well, but he was paired with a golfer whose name is Graeme McDowell, a hard case who has previously defeated Woods. In the early going, each time Woods made a good shot, McDowell would make an even better one. However, it was easy to note that Tiger looked like the Woods of old. He was serene and confident, and he was able to make that golf ball do what he wanted it to do. To the delight of most of the fans, he won again. The World of Golf is absolutely ecstatic. He will be playing again in the Masters next month in Atlanta. His presence there will probably double the attendance and the television ratings. Welcome back Tiger, it was good to see you win again. Truth be told, I thought you were finished.
THE NEW YORK JETS - I think that when they signed Tim Tebow they subjected their team to a major disaster. They already have Mark Sanchez, who is insecure and struggling to rise above mediocrity. Whether Tebow plays well or not, most of the media attention will be focused on him. The Jets head coach is Rex Ryan, a careless, foul mouthed man who is full of bravado. I predict that before this season is over, the team will meltdown, and Ryan will be fired. Sanchez is likely to have a nervous breakdown, and Tebow will become the starting quarterback.
VINNY DEL NEGRO - He appears to be in jeopardy of losing his job before the season is over. He seems to be a decent person, who has tried to do his best. All of the coaches in the NBA know their X's and O's. However, in Del Negro's case, it seems to me that he is just not tough enough. If it was my call, I would hire Nate McMillan for the job. He had the misfortune to be coaching a team, which lost its two best players, due to career ending injuries. Even then, they always gave the Lakers a hard time. The Clippers now have a talented team, one that deserves an effective coach.
PRESIDENT OBAMA - He is a great man, and he is required to do an almost impossible job. My heart and my prayers are with him and his family. I have already written that I think that it is a bad idea for him to televise his NCAA Bracket Selection. Not only does this not help him in his day job, but he picked North Carolina to win it all, and they have been eliminated. I think that it is a good idea for him to simply be the President of all of the Teams, and to wish all of them well. Members of the Supreme Court always wear black robes. Generals are always in uniform with their medals and badges on display. I respectfully suggest to the President that his uniform is a Suit and a Neck Tie, and should be what he wears on public occasions.