Introducing (the impressive) Mike Brown
He won over the Busses; Next up, the players and city of Los Angeles
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- If Mike Brown weren't a basketball coach, it would be easy to envision him as a successful salesman.
Although some basketball coaches look pained, annoyed and altogether bothered talking about their profession and philosophy with anyone outside of the coaching circle, Brown loves talking about basketball with just about anyone willing to listen.
He can do it for hours even among the most casual observers and not make them feel inferior when they can't keep up with his coachspeak.
He will simply smile when he sees that glazed look on their faces, grab a pen and paper, and diagram what he's talking about as if he were teaching his 13-year-old son about the game.
As someone who was viewed as a bit of an outsider with no ties to the NBA as a player or coach when he began as a team scout and a video coordinator with the Denver Nuggets in 1992, Brown refuses to brush off anyone based on his or her background.
He occasionally will take curious reporters onto the practice court and go through offensive and defensive drills with them or break down film with those willing to keep him company late into the night.
In this way, Brown embodies everything Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss and his son Jim, the team's executive vice president of player personnel, never had with Phil Jackson.
Despite dating Jeanie Buss -- Jerry's daughter and Jim's sister -- Jackson spoke to Jerry only a handful of times last season and never spoke to Jim. It was a strained relationship that ended the day the Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs.
As much as the Busses might have wanted to move on from the Jackson era, they never really considered Brown until they actually met him. Brown was viewed as a long shot not only by outsiders but by the man who ultimately would make the decision.
"When we started the process, I did not think he would be the man," Jerry Buss said. "But then when he started talking to us and said how he would handle this team, he was very prepared. He had page after page on each individual player on our roster. He knew that roster from top to bottom. He was really prepared. He was very impressive."
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert certainly can understand what Buss is talking about, having interviewed Brown for the first time six years ago. The chairman and founder of Quicken Loans has said Brown impressed him more than anyone else he had ever interviewed in his life.
In Brown's interview for the Lakers job, which lasted about three hours, he broke down the strengths and weaknesses of players on the roster and drew up detailed plays catering to those strengths and weaknesses. Knowing that the Busses had just seen the Dallas Mavericks carve up the Lakers in a second-round sweep, he also brought DVDs highlighting his physical style of defense.
Brown didn't view this as a job interview as much as a coaching clinic. He was in his element, and, by the time he was done, the Busses were convinced he was their guy.
"I liked his X's and O's and his vision for our future," Jerry Buss said. "I like the way he diagrams his plays. He must have diagramed 20 plays that he intends to use. He discussed the use of different personnel on this team and what their strengths would be. He was very prepared, and he seemed to me to know exactly what to do with this team."
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As Brown stood in front of reporters at his introductory news conference Tuesday, it wasn't hard to see what the Buss family liked about Brown. He was confident, assured and focused on implementing his plan. He listed his three staples on offense and defense while stating, "I'll define the culture; I'll define roles; and I'll hold people accountable."
What he lacks in the cachet Jackson had with 11 championship rings as a coach, Brown will attempt to make up for with a work ethic that led him from cutting game film in Denver to the most prominent head-coaching job in the NBA less than two decades later.
It is still unknown whether his new players will be as impressed with Brown as the Busses were, but after they got swept out of the playoffs, Brown expects to open training camp with "15 angry men" who will be ready to do what it takes to get back to the NBA Finals.
"I got to preach it, I got to talk it and I got to teach it," Brown said. "In time, if they hadn't bought in right away or if they don't buy in at the first meeting, they will. If they don't, there's going to be a problem because I'm going to hold everyone accountable."
In the end, no one will be held more accountable than Brown, who wasn't the most popular choice to become the next Lakers coach and likely will remain in that box until he wins a championship.
He is well aware it will take more than an impressive interview to change his perception in Los Angeles.
"Everybody is entitled to their opinion," Brown said. "I'm OK with that. I respect that. Winning will cure all that."
Arash Markazi is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.