Heading into every NBA season, the list of head coaches with their job on the line is easily more than you can count on one hand. However, no current NBA coach is under more pressure to win in this upcoming 2012-13 NBA season than Mike Brown.
The Los Angeles Lakers are the gold-standard franchise in the NBA. They are the New York Yankees and Green Bay Packers of basketball. Because both the franchise and its large fan base have such high expectations, anything other than playoff success is considered unacceptable.
If the Lakers stumble out of the gate, even if Dwight Howard is sidelined with his back injury, there will be more than just whispers about Brown and his ability to lead this team. As noted earlier, the Lakers are a prominent franchise.
Unlike the Sacramento Kings or the Milwaukee Bucks, the national media and a large portion of sports fans care about what happens with the Lakers. Brown won't be able to hide from a slow start. The criticism will rain down on him.
The reason Brown's coaching seat is the hottest in the NBA is expectation. The Lakers fans expect a NBA championship caliber team. The Buss family expects an NBA championship. Many media members have predicted the Lakers to win the NBA championship. With that much expectation, often comes disappointment.
In sports, when team expectations are not met—it’s usually the coach that is the first to go.
The Lakers expectation for greatness has built with its rich history. The franchise has made it to the NBA Finals 31 times, winning the championship 16 times. Because of the success, franchise standards for the Lakers has become championship or bust.
Of course for Brown, several factors have contributed to the expectations that have made his coaching seat so hot.
First off, Brown is following the greatest NBA coach of all time, Phil Jackson. No matter how Brown does, he will never be as respected nor considered as good of a coach as the Zen master. It's unfortunate, but true.
Unless Brown can yank off five NBA championships, then he will always be the inferior coach who followed Jackson. It's the same unfair comparisons we do with players when we compare them to Michael Jordan. There's only Jackson, just like there is only one Jordan. Everyone else will fall short.
Trying to live up to the legend that is Jackson is tough enough. But once you take a look at the Lakers roster heading into the 2012-13 NBA season, Brown's seat just about catches on fire.
The Lakers starting lineup, in terms of on paper, is arguably one of the best ever. Combined, the Lakers' starting lineup has 33 NBA All-Star appearances and 18 All-NBA First Teams. Howard, in the eyes of many, is the best center in the NBA.
Some people still like to argue that Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA. Gasol is a top 20 player, Nash can still play at an All-Star level and Metta World Peace is a solid role player. From top to bottom, this is without a doubt the most potent starting lineup in the NBA.
The Lakers bench isn't as porous as it was last season either. Jodie Meeks was a nice signing and signing; Antawn Jamison was even better. Along with Chris Duhon, Earl Clark, Jordan Hill and Steve Blake, the Lakers once again have a roster deep enough to compete at a high level all season long.
With this much fire power, there's no reason Brown should get the Lakers to finish any lower than the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference. Anything lower than the No. 3 spot would be a colossal failure.
Then there's the expectation of Bryant, the man chasing Jordan for that immaculate sixth championship ring. Nobody expects more from the Lakers this upcoming season than Bryant. With Bryant's career approaching an end, will he want Brown back for year three if the Lakers don't show improvements in 2012-13?
Bryant has spoken positively about Brown, but lets see how he regards Brown if the Lakers are bounced in the second round for the third straight season.
Putting the expectation aside, Brown is actually a very good coach. Defensively, he's one of the best in the NBA. In order to solve the Lakers issues on the offensive end of the floor, Brown brought in Eddie Jordan, who is considered one of the best offensive minds in basketball. Jordan's implementation of the Princeton offense will be a major factor for the Lakers success this season.
Many coaches in the NBA feel the weight and pressure of being the man in charge, but no one has it worse that Brown. Brown could essentially be fired for not getting his team past the second round. For most coaches around the league, making the playoffs is a huge success.
For the Lakers, they measure themselves in terms of championships. The expectation Brown faces has made his coaching seat extremely warm, but that's what comes with being the head coach of the NBA's most prominent franchise.