The triangle has been shuttered and closed for business — and it won't be reopening under the watch of Phil Jackson's successor with the Lakers. One of Mike Brown's former players was asked whether they ever tinkered with the triangle offense in practice in Cleveland, even a moment or two of curious experimentation. "Uh, no," said Clippers point guard Mo Williams, who played for Brown and alongside LeBron James for two seasons in Cleveland. "He had his own style. Like I said, he's not Phil [Jackson]. Obviously, he'll put his mark on the team. Knowing him, as a coach, I think he'll come in and do a great job.
He'll bring his stuff and be good at it." That style was a direct one, according to those who have known Brown for years. ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy called him a "straight shooter" and "realistic," saying: "He's not like, 'Everything is OK' if it's not OK." An NBA official, not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, suggested what might have tipped the Lakers into hiring Brown. "What he is not is a politician and a psychologist," said the official. "Maybe that's what attracted them. They want to get away from the triangle. They went far away from the Phil model. I think they're trying to find their [Tom] Thibodeau and that's the thing du jour now: defense, defense, defense." Thibodeau, a longtime assistant known for his defense, was hired last summer as the Chicago Bulls' coach. Williams used the same words when he was talking about the mantra in Cleveland under Brown. "As long as he's in L.A., you'll hear: defense, defense, defense, defense, defense and that's going to create a lot of offense for them," he said. "At the same time they have arguably one of the best players [Kobe Bryant] to ever play the game on the team. You can't forget that either." Williams thought it was a major mistake when Cleveland dismissed Brown a year ago and criticized the Cavaliers for making the move. Now he remains just as supportive of Brown joining the Lakers. "There's going to be pressure on him," Williams said Wednesday. "But he's dealt with pressure for five years in Cleveland. So pressure is nothing new to him. The pressure in Cleveland has prepared him for the ultimate pressure of coaching the Lakers." Said Van Gundy: "I thought he used LeBron great. They didn't have a lot of great weapons offensively. It was LeBron, Mo Williams and the shooting of [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas. It wasn't like a high-powered team, but I thought they executed well. "Everybody talks about style. With Mike, I know this — they'll play a winning style. They're going to win and win big." Additionally, Williams thought that Brown would work effectively with a veteran Lakers team. "He knows how to prepare veteran teams, when he's got guys up in age and needs their rest," Williams said. "And at the same time, even though you are a veteran, he still coaches you. He still teaches you… I was vocal about the departure in Cleveland because of one reason: He's a great coach." Williams said Brown was equally adept at listening to input from all sides: the starters and the bench. "Sometimes with veteran teams it's hard," Williams said. "But he did a great job with us as far as the ego aspect of it. He's a coach that listens to the Kobe Bryants, LeBrons, the Lamar Odoms, Pau [Gasol]. Not only those guys, it could be a Steve Blake and Shannon Brown, if they have something they see, he will listen" Williams, and others, have described Brown as someone who would stand up for his players, that he would take the heat, or a bullet, if you will. "Oh man. He'll take it," Williams said, laughing. "Without a bulletproof vest on."