By Ben Golliver
What do they say about the best-laid plans? Right, that they often go awry.
The Lakers, after acquiring Steve Nash and Dwight Howard for relative peanuts this summer, were supposed to cruise; so much so that forward Metta World Peace even hinted that his team could set the NBA record for most regular season victories. Lakers coach Mike Brown would settle for a single victory right now, after his team went 0-8 during the preseason and has started the regular season 0-2, with losses to the Mavericks and Trail Blazers earlier this week. Brown has come under immediate fire for his offensive philosophy and the Lakers played without focus or much effort during Wednesday night's loss in Portland.
The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that All-Star guard Kobe Bryant is already sick of the panicking and criticism, suggesting that any outside voices with doomsday scenarios or strategic critiques should pipe down pronto.
“Now you have Mike Brown telling everybody to be patient,” Bryant said. “Back then, it was Phil Jackson telling everybody to shut up.
“The critics are more likely to take runs at him [Brown] than they would at Phil Jackson.”
Now Bryant can be the one to ask for silence. “Yeah because I’ve won, so I can,” Bryant said. “Mike, it would be a little tougher for him to say that. So I’ll say it for him: Everybody shut up. Let us work.”
Bryant, who was hit with a frustration technical foul against the Blazers, also reportedly used the words "dumb,""stupid" and "idiotic," directly and indirectly, to describe the attacks on L.A.'s offensive approach and slow start.
Howard expressed a similar call for patience following Wednesday night's loss, although he did so a bit more pleasantly.
“We’ll get better with time,” Howard said. “L.A. wasn’t built in a day. … We need to stay patient. We need all of our fans to stay patient with us. This is a process. Dynasties weren’t built in a day.”
“We didn’t just expect for us to come together and be awesome, just like that,” Howard said. “It doesn’t work like that. I don’t remember any team that did that. Even the titles that [Michael] Jordan won, it took him years to get there.”
Side-by-side, Howard's defense of the Lakers is a little bit cleaner than Bryant's. While Howard seems to forget that the clock is ticking on much of the Lakers core, at least he didn't reference Brown's credentials -- or lack of championship credentials -- as Bryant did. It's nice for Bryant to step up and take bullets for his coach, but perhaps he didn't need to make it quite so clear that that was what he was doing.
The situation only got more difficult for Brown, who had attempted to explain his Princeton offense approach on Wednedsay by pointing out that it made life easier on Nash, who is 38.
"Steve Nash has said it himself," Brown asserted. "They can call him if they want, he's said it himself. He doesn't feel like he's as burdened because he doesn't have to make every play for everybody all the time with what we are trying to do. He can give it up and get it back. He says he's felt as fresh as he's ever felt in his career because he doesn't feel the pressure of making every single play."
Reporters did ask Nash, and he didn't exactly stand by Brown's explanation, ESPNLA.com noted.
Asked whether that was indeed the case, Nash said, "It's not that it wears me out. It's that I'm not sure right now that should be the focus right now.To make matters worse, Nash suffered a lower leg contusion that has left him "doubtful" for the Lakers' next game, against the Clippers on Friday. That will leave the less-than-desirable duo of Steve Blake and Chris Duhon to handle the point duties for Brown against All-Star Chris Paul, who tallied 12 points, 12 assists, four rebounds and four steals in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. Lose this crosstown showdown, and Bryant's hopes for the critics won't be fulfilled. A win, though, would buy some welcome, if temporary, relief.
"I'm very reluctant to worry about myself. I want to learn, I want to build this team up and then if I need to be more proactive and a bigger part of things, that'll come. But right now, I want to try to get the offense going, get the guys going, get everyone's confidence up and we'll find a happy medium sometime down the road. I'm not worried about myself."