Today, at 3pm, the Lakers will hold a press conference to introduce Mike Brown to the media as their new head coach. You can watch the entire thing live at Lakers.com and study each and every answer intently. I’m sure there will be some good insight on the hiring process, his perceived deficiencies (and strengths) as a head coach, how he’ll deal with Kobe and much, much more.
Just don’t expect to be wowed. Brown, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t bowl you over with his charm or his gravitas. He’s a coach at heart and if his interview with ABC is any indication of what he’ll be like in today’s presser, I expect a lot of coach speak delivered in a straight forward manner. There’s value in that approach, it’s just different than what the Lakers and their fans are used to.
As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I can tell you the transition from Phil Jackson to Brown will likely mirror the one that occurred when Bill Parcels was replaced by Wade Phillips. Bill controlled a presser like few of his peers could and Wade was not in that league. At all. Following up a man that understood how to work the media with one that gave bland or straight to the point answers wasn’t easy for Wade and it was a criticism that endured through his entire tenure with the Cowboys.
That said, when it comes to the Lakers, winning the press conference isn’t what I really care about. Winning on the court is much more important to me.
Sure, it’s nice to have a coach that can turn a phrase or put the press on its heels with a response to a question. No one loved Phil’s responses to questions more than me and I greatly appreciated the way he was able to navigate the press in a manner that left the impression that he controlled the room. That puts the fans at ease.
But I don’t think anything puts the fans at ease more than winning games. One of the reasons that Phil could always deal with the press in the manner that he did (sometimes dismissive, always shaping the dialogue) is because the success of the team showed that his approach was working. It’s difficult to undermine a coach in any way if the results on the court are positive.
If Mike Brown can win games the questions about his personality or ability to deal with the press become an afterthought in relation to the standing of his team. And while this team has “championship or bust” written all over it, the ability to lead the team to victories – even during the regular season - will insulate him (at least somewhat) from the press’ ability to shape his narrative.
Don’t get me wrong. Today is important. Just as every other media session he has will in some way shape his tenure with this team. The media is unforgiving and there will always be questions about his approach just because it’s hard to let go of preconceived notions or stereotypes about a coach and his style. There’s a reason that some of the most beloved coaches have an ability to relate to the press or charm them in a way that ensures what’s written isn’t always a harsh critique. But what’s most important is the success of the team and how the players perform under his stewardship. If the wins come, how he deals with the media will be secondary to those results.