LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Lakers have fired head coach Mike Brown, officials confirmed Friday.
KNX 1070′s Randy Kerdoon reports Brown was fired after the team’s early 1-4 start to the NBA season and several issues plaguing the team on and off the court.
“This was a difficult and painful decision to make,” said Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak in a statement. “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.”
Lakers Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff has been named as the interim head coach for Friday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors, according to the team’s official Twitter account.
According to sources, former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson is the top candidate and is listening to make a return in attempt for his 11th NBA title and 6th with the Lakers.
Las Vegas is even confident that the Lakers will re-hire Jackson as they list him the +175.
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard were among those on Thursday who signaled growing frustration with the Lakers’ slow start – along with Brown himself.
“Tough day. I’ve seen coaches as well as friends come and go,” said Bryant on his facebook page. “No matter how many years I’ve been playing, it’s still hard to deal with. I had a good relationship with Mike and I will continue to have one. I wish him and his family nothing but the best. I spoke with him today and thanked him for all of his hard work and sacrifice.”
The firing comes after Lakers backup swingman Devin Ebanks was arrested in Hollywood for suspicion of driving under the influence early Friday morning.
Twitter exploded with speculation on who might replace 42-year-old Brown, including former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and Mike D’Antoni, who coached point guard Steve Nash during his time on the Phoenix Suns.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports tweeted that D’Antoni specifically had been mentioned by Lakers management ahead of plans to fire Brown.
Fans and reporters were stunned more by the timing of the move in early November than the firing itself.
“Lakers fired Mike Brown. Can’t say I’m shocked it happened, just surprised it happened this quickly,” KCAL9 sports reporter Kristine Leahy said on Twitter.
Lakers fired Mike Brown. Can't say I'm shocked it happened, just surprised it happened this quickly.—
Kristine Leahy (@KristineLeahy) November 09, 2012
Lakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson said on Twitter that Brown may just have not had the right personality to handle the team.
Feel bad for Coach Mike Brown, who's a great guy, but don't think he was the right guy for the job in the first place.—
Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 09, 2012
“Feel bad for Coach Mike Brown, who’s a great guy, but don’t think he was the right guy for the job in the first place,” Johnson tweeted.
A search for a new head coach will begin immediately, Lakers officials said.