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Mike Brown fired as LA Lakers coach

Former Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Mike Brown is seen in this undated file photo. He was fired from the team on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, after being formally introduced as the new head coach on Tuesday, May 31, 2011. The team's season record was 1-4 at the time of Brown's departure.
November 9, 2012 12:20:19 AM PST
Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown was fired Friday after a 1-4 start to his second season in charge. In a statement, Brown thanked the Buss family and the Lakers for the opportunity.

"I have a deep appreciation for the coaches and players that I worked with this past year and I wish the organization nothing but success as they move forward," Brown said.

Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will take over as interim coach while the management begins their search for a new head coach.

"This was a difficult and painful decision to make," said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak during a news conference. "Mike was very hard-working and dedicated, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to make a change at this time. We appreciate Mike's efforts and contributions and wish him and his family the best of luck."

When asked if Phil Jackson would be considered in the hunt for a head coach, Kupchak responded, "When there's a coach like Phil Jackson, one of the all-time greats, and he's not coaching, I think we'd be negligent not to be aware that he's out there."

Jackson would bring a resume of 11 championships, including the five he won with Kobe Bryant. Kupchak says a list of candidates has been compiled, but they haven't reached out to any coaches yet. He did not talk to any players before firing Brown, but he said he may talk to some before hiring a new head coach.

"We have veterans on this team, two of which have almost 17 years, others played over 10, 12 years that played for many coaches," said Kupchak.

One of the coaching candidates is Mike D'Antoni. He is out of a job right now recovering from knee surgery. He ran a very fast-paced offense in Phoenix, which the ownership group has always loved, and he also had Steve Nash with him there.

The team may also consider Brian Shaw, who won a championship with the Lakers and coached under Jackson. Many felt Shaw would have been the smoothest transition after Jackson's departure.

"Perhaps a coach or two that we're considering, we'll run it past one of our veterans, not for their approval, but, tell us about this person," said Kupchak.

On Friday, Kobe Bryant posted his reaction to Brown's firing on Facebook:

"As a team we must focus our energy on tonight's game. 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."

The Lakers begin a three-game homestand on Friday night against the Golden State Warriors, and there had been reports that if Brown and the Lakers had not made a good showing during their six-game homestand, that it would be the end of Brown's tenure as coach. But management did not give him that chance, giving him the boot before the game against the Warriors.

"This team was built to contend this year. There's no guarantee that this team can win a championship, but we feel they could be deeply in the hunt," Kupchak said.

Brown has been criticized for his offense this season, with many complaining that he was not utilizing Nash or Dwight Howard the right way by running a Princeton offense. One of the main things wrong with the offense was that Brown's offensive strategies did not utilize the inside game enough after trading for Howard.

The Lakers are off to the worst start in the Western Conference, despite carrying the league's largest payroll at just over $100 million.

Letting Brown go is something some say shouldn't be surprising for the Lakers.

"That's the Lakers. This is an organization, one of the few organizations in sports, that positively demands wins at every stage," said Mark Willard, 710 ESPN radio host.

Laker fans say Brown's sacking was just a matter of time.

"Laker fans are spoiled," said fan Curt Kilroy. "It was kind of fast. I thought, you know, at least give the guy 10 games, but hey, gotta make something happen."

Another fan supported the move.

"We should already have seen improvement for the first five games, and we haven't," said fan Eric Matheny. "So with a star-studded team as the Lakers are, I think this is the right decision."

Fans expressed an overwhelming desire to see Jackson back with the Lakers during the team's game against the Warriors at home Friday. Throughout the game, the crowd chanted "We want Phil!" The Lakers defeated the Warriors 101-77.

Meanwhile Jackson has canceled a paid, out-of-town appearance at a convention scheduled for next week without any explanation.

ESPN contributed to this report.

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