- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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LOS ANGELES -- There was no pomp for the purple. No circumstance for the gold.
Nope, there was no celebration when Bernie Bickerstaff was introduced as the 23rd head coach in Lakers' team history.
The 68-year-old basketball lifer has seen it all in his long and winding coaching career that has included head coaching gigs in Seattle, Denver, Washington and Charlotte.
Or at least he thought he had seen it all until he came to work on Friday morning and found out that he would be replacing Mike Brown on the sidelines some 20 years after he gave Brown his first job in the NBA as an intern with the Nuggets.
Just how surprised was Bickerstaff?
"You're being kind with the word 'surprise,' " Bickerstaff told a packed room of reporters before Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors. "I was shocked. You know the history with Mike Brown and myself, in terms of the genesis of history there as an intern, as an assistant with me in Washington. So, I'm very fond of him and it's a tough situation."
Bickerstaff's fifth head-coaching gig is sure to be a short one. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told reporters Friday that the team was already putting together a list of candidates, from which will come a permanent head coach replacement.
Here's an assortment of quotes from Bickerstaff's Irish Wake of a news conference that was nothing if not entertaining.
On his role in the interim:
"I have no control over anything. Whatever Mitch asks me to do, that’s what I’ll do."
On his first task as coach:
"We want to try to win the game. Yesterday we had a great practice. It was intense. The guys got after it. It was a good practice and Mike prepared us well for today."
(Note: Bickerstaff was doing a Herm Edwards impression during the first part of that quote.)
On his message to the team:
"We talked, but I think less is best. Basically, since I've been coaching, you keep things simple. That's what you need to do. We need the guys to go out and play. Not look over at the bench. Just go out and play. Have some fun. Play some basketball. Do what you're capable of doing. We understand, Mike understood the expectations that you all had and we all have to live up to that, and we understand that that hasn't happened. So, we got to try to live up to it."
On the early part of the season:
"I think we're ahead of the game for the simple reason of this: We thought Dwight would be playing in January. Dwight is playing. He's got five games plus some exhibition games under his belt. So, is that a concern? I think we're ahead of the game in that situation. And it takes time to bring stuff together."
On whether he'll run the Princeton-style offense:
"There's some packages that Mike had implemented that we'll look at."
On what was missing under Brown:
"Yeah, there is something missing right now: (Steve) Nash."
On how the assistant coaching staff reacted to the news:
"We're in that foxhole together. You're probably together more so than you are with your families, so there is a bond and I think basically, we all hurt because there was a mutual respect for Mike. Mike's a great coach. Mike's won a lot of basketball games. He's been in the Finals and he's had the opportunity to coach two of the greatest basketball players in the league in LeBron (James) and Kobe Bryant. So, he'll land. I have no reservations about that."
On pondering whether to accept the interim gig:
"Any time you make a decision, the fundamental thing is to think about it. So I don't think I did anything unique. In terms of people making decisions, you think about it. You don't just jump into the river."
On determining the rotation:
"It's a collective effort with the staff. I'm just a player in the band, so we'll put our heads together. I just don't want the guys looking over to the bench. I want them to play and have some fun. I'll keep things very simple. There's no way you could make a multitude of changes in six-seven hours."
On whether he ever thought he'd be a head coach again:
"I never really put a whole lot of thought into it. I think when you talk about the NBA and the things that have happened, there isn't anything that hadn't been done -- whether it's participating in championships, All-Star games, teams with the best records, general manager, coach. So, really, I haven't missed anything so I'm OK. When I go to the blue yonder, I'm fine."
On whether he'll continue as interim coach after the Warriors game:
"If they ask me to conduct practice tomorrow, I will."
On whether he's 'day-to-day' in his interim status:
"At my age, you're damn right I'm day-to-day."
On how Brown is doing:
"This guy, he's strong. Believe me. His back and how he responded to things, you would never know. He was always very positive. He worked hard and he had great focus. I think Mike probably did a good job of not doing a lot of listening and looking at your cameras. He's a very positive young man. He's a very great coach. And, what a terrific human being. Those are the things that are important in life. When you come from places like Mike, where I've come from -- and I'm giving a plug for the University of San Diego -- no one really expected you to be here. And he's done it here and S-dash-dash-dash happens."
On his personality as a coach:
"I don't analyze myself. You just do what you do and the one thing that I try to do, I try to be the same guy every day. That's my goal in life, to be the same person every day."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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