I’d Rather Win Games Than Win Press Conferences

Darius Soriano —  May 31, 2011

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.

Darius Soriano

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35 responses to I’d Rather Win Games Than Win Press Conferences

  1. Darius,
    We’ll have to wait and see – the new CBA might use press conference wins and losses as a tie breaker for HCA.

  2. #1. Brilliant. Hahahaha. It will be like the MLB all-star game, huh?

  3. Darius-Never knew you were a Cowboy fan, how did that happen!!! You should’ve been a Niner fan, ha ha

  4. Or, the new CBA could do away with press conferences altogether. Just go with prepared statements and computer analysis.

    Brown has quite a long time before the regular season. Maybe the doubts will blow away by then. Or maybe they’ll fester… and become sore and angry boils for the flies to feast on. I didn’t just write that.

  5. #3. Booo, Niners. Ha. Grew up loving RB’s and one of my favorites was Dorsett. When the team got really bad, I stuck with them and then the Aikman/Irvin/Emmit days came along.

  6. SuburbiaLakerFan May 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Darius,

    Based on your analogy of the Cowboy’s Parcells-Phillips era transition, does this Imply that Mike Brown will make a splash in year one but by year three will effectively lose his locker room? Fantastic! Thanks for the bad omen! You just cursed our beloved Franchise!

    But great work as always

  7. #6. Here’s hoping the analogy doesn’t extend too far. :) But, I will say that Brown’s experienced much more success than Wade did at the point that they joined the Lakers/Cowboys.

  8. How about Barry Switzer instead? One more title with the same core group.

    I’m really believe that’s the most realistic expectation in the next 3 years. I’d love to see two, but that’s asking for a lot.

  9. 1. If that’s the case, you know Rasheed Wallace would be looking for a 1 year deal. He’d be the dark horse of the league.

    “Both teams played hard, my man”

  10. kehntangibles May 31, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    As much as I despise the Cowboys, you do have to admit as an objective observer that the Cowboys are pretty much the Lakers of the NFL in terms of historical cachet. And in terms of being despised by every other team’s fans.

    Anyways – today’s distressing but ultimately irrelevant stat:

    In the past 4 NBA seasons, this one included, one conference champion closed out their conference finals on the road while the other closed out at home. Unfortunately, the last 3 seasons all saw the conference champ who clinched on the road go on to win the NBA title. This year, Dallas finished off the Thunder at Dallas while Miami beat the Bulls in Chicago.

  11. kehntangibles – That was NOT the stat we wanted to see! Despite its irrelevance, it still manages to concern me.

  12. Mike Brown was charming and amiable during press interviews. He didn’t really tackle serious questions but more on optimism that he can do the job. Not bad assurance at all, the proof of the pudding is now on the eating as old folks usually say.

    Chownoir, I still believe that Mike should reach out to Laker greats, you know sort of PR coming to LA. It’s not a hogwash if you give it a thought, perhaps I didn’t say it clearly. Of course, he will assemble his own assts. but to be accepted in this town 1) You have to convince your players in order to create the winning attitude 2) It’s not bad to reach out the press legion, mingle with the Laker hollywood crowd. If you are new in a Company, what is the first thing to know? Your job responsibility and company’s culture.

  13. Darius

    For some reason I thought you were much younger. I’m a die hard Cowboy fan since the days of Roger. Dorsett is still my favorite running back.

    Dallas is in major trouble. Haslem makes the difference. They don’t have to rely on Bosh’s defense as much and therefore they don’t have to sacrifice his offense.

  14. Dirk, Kidd, Terry and Pela suddenly turn human, and Barea stinks. was Miami’s defense *that much better?

  15. I can’t stand seeing the Heat win. It’s like watching something horrible happen, and you are absolutely powerless to help.

  16. I want Dallas to win the next game sooo bad. This is as stressful as if the Lakers are playing. Dallas just tore up our defense, the Heat cannot be that much better.

  17. Darius… didn’t know you were a cowboy fan either… So am I… loved’em since I was 8 and saw them on TV with the stars on their helmets while growing up in Hawaii.

    Hate to say it, but Dallas won’t be able to stop Wade and LBJ… I just hope this will be LBJ’s only ring… I’m hoping for the Lakers to get 1 more in the next 3 years and then for OKC and Chi-town to stop the Heat from winning multiple championships with Wade, LBJ, and Bosh…

    Great site Darius… thanks for all your hard work.

  18. Want to see the asst. coaches and the personnel moves before making a judgement. One thing is clear,this guy is going to work as hard at his job, as Kobe works at his. In the Fox interview,Mitch said there might be some players available because of changes in the agreement that weren`t there previously.

  19. Miami has two of the best closers in the game. Both can handle the ball. Both can play very good defense. Bosh is good when getting single teamed. He is their wild card like Lamar is to us but Bosh can score 30 and Odom will not. Add Haslem who is their defensive heart and soul and you have a very lethal team. They don’t need a point guard, but they do require spacing. IF you can get into them and stop their running starts to the whole, you have a chance. You have to force them to make 3s and Dallas is not doing that because Miami’s athleticism at the two and three is giving them fits. They can’t send Kidd to guard Wade like they did with Kobe (he was hurt), so Wade is doing to us what Barrera did to us; penetrating. LaBrawn is a beast and there is no one on that team that can stop him or even slow him down. They need to put him on his ass a couple time (Hayward earn your keep) and it may change his mind. If not, he will walk into the paint at will and get and ones or dunks every single game. All five of them.

  20. Man, I loved Phil’s interviews. Hell, anytime he was in front of a camera and a microphone, I paid attention. Whether it was his pre-game Zen 101 with Billy McDonald or post-game interviews pointing out the Lakers’ mistakes, I enjoyed listening to him.

    Now, I don’t know. Something about the way Mike Brown speaks bugs the crap out of me. To me, personally, his drawl projects an overwhelming sense of incompetence and stupidity. When he talks, he looks and sounds… retarded, for lack of a better word.

    I respect him as a coach and I am looking forward to what he can do with the Lakers the next season. I just can’t listen to or watch him speak.

    Not even a month has gone by, and I’m already missing Phil and his Mona Lisa smirk.

    On the topic of the NFL, the Raiders will be the next Superbowl champs. You heard it here first.

  21. In game 1 vs. Miami Barea got the same looks (open 3s and runners) that he buried vs. us, but now he’s building a brick house. What gives?

  22. Wait…I thought as Lakers fans we’re not supporting a team that swept us out of a three peat chance?

    What did I miss out on? I’m loving the Heat win in game 1.

  23. Yes, Miami’s defense is *that* much better. Held dallas to something like 35% shooting, their worst by far these whole playoffs.

    Somehow they are doing this all starting Mike Bibby. Bibby’s efficiency this post season is the lowest of any players post season (who played at least 180 minutes in that post season) in history. 1.1 PER efficiency rating (league average is 15 and a bad bench player is like 6). Why do they still start that guy? And, what are they going to look like when they replace him with someone just average….

  24. Rusty Shackleford June 1, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Isn’t being a Lakers fan AND a Cowboys fan kind of vulgar? I’m here in Pittsburg, CA feeling a little guilty about being a Laker fan AND SF Giants fan but to anybody who went in to the city for that World Series celebration; wild.

    I’m not watching the NBA Finals this year.

  25. Lakers/Cowboys fans FTW! In any case, from what I can decipher from the press conference Brown impressed me. But like you said, the real test will be winning games, and winning them convincingly.

    As for the Finals, Dallas can beat the Heat, but it can’t beat the Heat + Refs. There were so many dubious calls this has 2006 Finals written all over it. The Lebron coverage (Hi ESPN!) is insufferable as it is, I can’t imagine the inanity of it all if he wins a ring.

  26. @Edwin, I get the whole company culture bit. I’m a big proponent of that in my professional life. But I disagree he needs to make any kind of extra effort to reach out. He wants to be accepted, he wins, simple as that.

    As long as he’s professional, respectful and communicative with the Laker family, he’s good. Really that’s all you want out of someone, do their job well and be professional. Sure it would be nice if they became one of the family but it’s not necessary.

    Results and professional integrity, that’s all I care. Everything else is gravy.

  27. Yahoo article on Brown:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=ArwWwgjy4zxy4IZQXPrjWnq8vLYF?slug=ap-lakers-brown

    It has this quote about Kobe:

    Brown made it clear Tuesday during his introduction as Jackson’s successor that Bryant’s role won’t change under his regime. He said his first meeting with the superstar who owns five NBA championships “went very well.”

    “This is still his team. We’ll make sure that he’ll have the ball in the sweet spots that he likes,” Brown said. “He has a great understanding of my vision and he’s onboard.”

    And this one about the big men:

    “We’re not going to run the triangle offense, but we will have bits and pieces of it that will be incorporated,” said Brown, adding that his offense will be tailored to 7-footers Bynum and Gasol, similar to what was run for big men Tim Duncan and David Robinson during his time as an assistant in San Antonio.”

    It will be interesting to see how those two concepts will be balanced. My hope is that Brown will try to get Kobe the ball on the move where he can attack a defense that has also had to move around a bit (which wasn’t the case on his attacks from the middle via pick-and-roll or straight-up iso).

    Also, Barnes is quoted as saying that he will exercise his option for another year, which I’m fine with. Liked him as a slasher/defender/high-energy player when he was fully healthy. With a one-year contract for around 2mil, he might also be an attractive player to throw in a possible deal (if his contract structure allows).

  28. @23) Do you mean to say that Mike Bibby is worse than Derek Fisher? Hmmmh, who would have thought! Mike Bibby is younger than Fish and has not put as many miles on his legs and feet as Fisher!
    I wonder what the Lakers would look like with an average guard starting or coming in off the bench?

  29. @27 That is a good question. It will be interesting to see how Brown balances Kobe’s urge to dominate the ball vs. using our strength inside.

    I really hope he focuses our big men much more and forces Kobe to play off ball and work on his spot up shooting.

  30. I know I bore everyone often as I pound the defensive drum over and over. We all known the Lakers need a 6-4 to 6-6 guy to play alongside Kobe to defend PGs. We also need to talk about defending PFs. The Lakers have two PFs that are not capable one on one defenders. I hope Mike Brown let’s Bynum guard PFs more often than Phil Jackson did.

  31. Can Mike Brown develop Shannon into a solid PG starter under the new offense? His speed fits the system, however his decision making and game IQ leaves a lot to be desired. I wish they will get a 1, 4 and two 3′s preferably those Euro 3 pt shooters on their forthcoming 4 2nd rd. draft picks. If this happens, Fisher slides to 2nd unit together with Artest while promoting Odom and Brown as starters. What do you think about that change assuming that they (LO + SB) know their new roles?

  32. Sharky towers June 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    31- Shannon Brown a PG? Shannon shouldn’t have the ball in his hands unless he’s getting a pass for a dunk or going straight to the hole. His handles are among the worst of any guard in the league. No way this guy is PG material. He also doesn’t have the NBA iq for that position.

    I like Shannon for what he is (or should be). Your 9th or 10th man.

    Not trying to be argumentative.

    Lakers fans will see how good Steve Blake is next year. He’s a solid PG in this league and his price/performance ratio is great. Last year I can’t explain, but I have faith. This guy started over some very talented pg’s before coming to the Lakers.

  33. #30. i absolutely agree with you with a bigger guard paired with KB. Wasn’t this Phil’s preference in the beginning?

  34. The Lakers have a new coach the foundation is partial complete. The next step is Kupchack,Brown and Buss need to immediately address the reason why the Lakers lost and what needs to be done to return this team to the championship finals.