TAKE YOUR SUPERSTAR TO WORK DAY

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Sports just because

Coaching changes in professional sports happen all the time, it is a fact of sport, like sweating. There is the typical phrase thrown around “what have you done for me lately?” that appears to be embraced by most owners and general managers, but more so in college, when it comes to assessing a coaches value to a team.

Yet somehow the decisions don’t always seem to be clear to us, or even the players for that matter. Every time a star team makes a change there are rumblings amongst a team or within a locker room because their superstar was not consulted before the hiring. The recent issue that brings this thought process to life is the hiring of Mike Brown to coach the Los Angeles Lakers now that Phil Jackson is done.

To give some background on the subject, Phil Jackson had an imaginary contract renewal for next year, he didn’t need to say it but we all knew that if he wanted to come back another year and coach he could. The Buss family would never push him out after 5 great championship seasons in LA and neither would anyone else in the greater Los Angeles area.

The whole time however, those watching closely all felt that assistant Brian Shaw was the heir-apparent to the Lakers throne. After sitting by Jackson’s side since 2004 as an assistant, and being a part of the past two NBA championship Lakers coaching staff, it seemed to many as a formality that the Lakers were to hold a press conference this off-season announcing Shaw’s promotion to the big boy chair.

But that promotional tour never came, the phone never rang, and Brian Shaw did not get a new fancy corner office to watch film and laugh it up in. Instead he, like many coaches in his line of work, is left without that assumed promotion. He has to continue to stay on the back burner and be an assistant, for now that is, I read that he had an interview with the Golden State Warriors.

Loyalty and unwritten agreements is not the issue of this post however, I was motivated to write as per a statement released today by executive Jim Buss, son of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss. The ESPN.com article which unveiled this statement was titled “Lakers regret not talking Brown hire with Kobe.”

So sorry Kobe, not only are we going to pay you the so called “owed” money of $24,800,000 for all your years of service and championships, we’ll also let you run the team. Nope sorry, can’t convince me, this is not how things operate, not in today’s world when it costs 100s of millions of dollars to buy a team.

This mentality of consulting the superstar is one unwritten rule in sports that no longer applies as far as I’m concerned. Not when your pay roll is over $80 million dollars and you’re spending serious luxury tax money to field a champion.

The Lakers had one responsibility here, to hire the individual they felt was best equipped to run the organization on the court from the sidelines. To hire an individual they trusted with the responsibility of organizing practices, mentoring players, and strategizing the best way to accomplish their lofty goals which are the same every year, to win it all. If the Lakers felt that they were able to find this in Mike Brown without having Kobe’s approval then so be it. He gets paid six times what the coach will, he can learn to listen to someone else and play by others rules.

But this scenario goes for all sports at all levels, although the political games-monster that is college sports is tough to compare to professional sports as trustees, alumni, boosters, etc. make college a whole different world.

In the professional ranks however I think players need to understand their role, you are a valued asset and contributor to the organization. You make yourself, as well as the leagues and teams, plenty of money. If the team wants to bring in a new coach however and you have some petty grudge against him/her, or you don’t like something about them but everyone else seems to get along, you’re the veto vote? You have to learn to get over it and compete at your best still. Based on your privileged position in sports and income earnings, if the owner/GM likes how a coach fits the “team” then you better learn to be a team player.

I don’t understand how fans can seriously side with the players on this, for those that do. I was one of the captains of my high school basketball team but I didn’t get to decide who the coach was. Granted he was the same all three years, but you better believe I knew my place and if I was told to run, I ran.

I honestly feel that the player’s need a serious reality check in many areas of sports, and team management is one of them. Do I believe that a player can have input? Sure, however teams do not need to apologize because they didn’t call a player about a hire. The player and coach should mutually reach out to each other and address any issues, but if the best coach and the best player hate each other they should be able to work on that relationship themselves, together.

Brown and Bryant will earn almost $30 million combined next season, between the two of them I’m sure they could afford a very talented couples counsellor, at the very least they could buy some very nice wine to accompany some very delicious steaks to talk things over.

Case in point, management is management and players are players, and they should stick to doing that. Mike Brown won’t be dressing in gold and purple anytime soon and putting himself into the starting line up at Staples Center, nor should he. The same should be said for star players feeling they need to OK everything. You’re an employee, you work for the Lakers, let the Laker’s worry about management and you worry about winning titles. While you’re both doing your jobs, you can learn to work together as a whole and that, my friends, is what we call team work, as a team.

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