Hubbard: Of Cowboys, Lakers and Jerry Buss

The Cowboys cynic in Dallas would tell you that Jones has been Jim Buss for two decades – although Jones, who played college football at the University of Arkansas, is a self-made successful businessman, while Buss seems to have benefited primarily from, well, family connections.

While there are some similarities, it does appear Jones could learn a little from the Lakers. When Mike Brown was fired Friday after starting 1-4, it seems to me the greatest failing for Lakers executives was not making such a quick decision. It was that Buss hired Brown in the first place.

Brown had never distinguished himself as a great bench coach in Cleveland. Even though he coached a team that won 50 games twice, more than 60 two other times and corraled a Coach of the Year honor in 2009, his greatest accomplishment seemed to be filling out the starting lineup by writing: “F: LeBron James.”

In 2007, it was written often that James almost singlehandedly carried the Cavaliers to the Finals, where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs, and it’s not too much of a reach to suggest he also carried the coaching staff with him.

When Brown was hired in LA prior to last season, one of his first pronouncements was he was going to abandon the triangle for his own offense. That worked out so well that he decided to install the Princeton offense this season. As colleague Chris Bernucca pointed out in detail last week, that simply did not make sense.

If Brown was intent on proving he was his own man, he certainly did. And it must have been abundantly clear to Lakers executives, because they held him accountable and fired him.

I’m not close to the day-to-day Lakers dealings, but having first covered the team during the glory years of Magic and Kareem, I’m really wondering how strong of a push Dr. Jerry Buss made in the ouster of Brown. He made a big deal by turning over the operation to his son, Jim. But this move has Jerry written all over it. If that is the case, it was not a panic move – it was a common sense move. Brown had shown to be intractable and his approach was not working. So do the obvious. Do the dramatic. That’s Jerry Buss.

Jerry Jones has often been the same way, but it’s kind of interesting comparing these two renowned franchises. Jason Garrett, who had zero previous experience as a head coach, took over the Cowboys full-time the same season Brown took over the Lakers. It has become apparent that Garrett is not a good in-game coach – he actually iced his kicker for a late-game field goal attempt last year in Arizona, calling time out as the kicker made what would have been a game-winning 49-yard field goal. The second kick missed, and the Cowboys went on to lose.

This year, the Cowboys managed to get off only one play in the last 26 seconds in a loss to Baltimore due to Garrett’s atrocious clock management.

Cowboys fans are envious of Lakers fans – they’d love to have an owner see the obvious and make a change.

But that’s not Jones’ style. When the Cowboys were struggling to an awful start two years ago, Jones kept on saying he had never fired a coach during the season and wasn’t about to start. But when the Cowboys reached 1-7, his hand was forced and he fired Wade Phillips.

That demonstrates a point that some Lakers critics have missed. Was it too soon at 1-4 to fire Brown? So when should it have been? At 1-7 or 1-12 or 1-and-anything?

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  1. John says

    Great article Jan. I really enjoyed it. And yes, the Lakers are like the Cowboys here in LA. Heck, if they ever brought a football team back to LA I highly doubt they’d surpass the Lakers in ratings. We just love our team so much that we can’t bear to see them losing. I know this may be hard for fans of other teams to understand, specifically lottery teams, but that’s the difference between us. The standards here are so high that it’s hard for us to accept a sub .500 record. It’s like the Patriots in Boston. A 5-3 record over there is like 3-10! But we’re also realists. Right now we realize that we’re not the best team in the West. The Thunder and Spurs are ahead of us in that category, but you best believe we’re catching up. Once everything starts clicking the league will be put on notice!

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