Even one day before Mike Brown’s firing, Kobe Bryant still stood up for the former embattled Lakers’ coach.
He downplayed a video gone viral that he had given Brown a death stare in the waning seconds of the Lakers’ 95-86 loss Wednesday to the Utah Jazz. Bryant pleaded fans to “shut up” and give Brown the chance to fully implement his offensive system. Even when players publicly and privately lamented Brown’s long practice schedules and unpredictable rotations, Bryant at least publicly stood up for him.
That’s why it shouldn’t be surprising Bryant described Brown’s firing as a “tough day” on his Facebook page.
“I’ve seen coaches as well as friends come and go. No matter how many years I’ve been playing, it’s still hard to deal with,” Bryant wrote on his page. “I had a good relationship with Mike and I will continue to have one. I wish him and his family nothing but the best. I spoke with him today and thanked him for all of his hard work and sacrifice.”
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak cited the team’s 1-4 record and inconsistency in executing Brown’s offensive and defensive concepts. Lakers forward Pau Gasol considered the firing a “clear message” about the need to have stronger urgency. But Bryant argued the Lakers can’t become consumed with Brown’s departure and the uncertainty surrounding his replacement.
“As a team, we must focus our energy on tonight’s game,” Bryant said. “We must block out the weight of today’s news and simply do our jobs to the best of our ability. I’m not sure what direction we are heading in next. All I can do is focus on the here and now.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter.