Mike Brown’s firing and Tim Duncan’s good fortune
In a move that was likely to happen but came too soon, the Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown after a 1-4 start to the season. Bernie Bickerstaff is taking over as interim head coach. The move further outlines the many differences in the careers of Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant. Tonight, Kobe Bryant will play for his eighth head coach in the NBA (Bill Bertka was Kobe’s coach for a single game in 1999).
Tim Duncan does not understand this. Duncan has been fortunate to play for one man for the duration of his career. Odds are, it’s going to stay that way. Every time I think about Duncan and Pop, I remember back to a series of videos published on Spurs.com featuring a conversation between Duncan and Bill Russell.
In one part of the video series, they discuss coaches. Russell jokes that he played for only two coaches during his time with the Boston Celtics, Red Auerbach and himself. They discuss the Duncan-Pop relationship and how lucky Duncan is to have been paired with Pop for his whole career. Duncan’s been fortunate to only have played for one coach, something he’s fully aware of.
“I hope I don’t have to adjust to another coach, because that’ll be a big change for me.”
And who knows how that would’ve turned out? It’s fairly safe to assume Tim Duncan would be able to play for any coach, that’s the personality he brings to the table. But would he have been able to win four titles with another coach? Would he have been able to win any titles with another coach? Popovich was almost fired after a slow start in 1999, before San Antonio won its first title, how that might have thrown a wrench into Duncan’s illustrious career.
For all the attention Spurs fans crave for their small market team, there are advantages to keeping a low profile. The world doesn’t follow every move the Spurs make, but neither is every move scrutinized by a national media. Yes, the Spurs’ shift from methodical defensive team to fun, exciting offensive force would’ve been appreciated more, but the five year title drought coinciding with such a philosophical change would’ve been far less forgivable.
For all the luxuries the glitz and glamour Los Angeles Lakers have, they don’t have time and patience.