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Lakers unveil Mike Brown as successor to Jackson

Mike Brown chats with Jerry Buss and Jim Buss after a news conference in Los Angeles
Mike Brown chats with Jerry Buss and Jim Buss after a news conference in Los Angeles

By R.T. Watson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles unveiled the new face of the franchise by naming former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown as the successor to the enormously successful Phil Jackson on Tuesday.

Brown, who was named NBA's Coach of the Year for 2008-2009 and posted a 272-138 record with the Cavaliers before being fired, struck a confident tone as he brushed aside criticism of his lackluster track record in post-season.

"Whether it's the media or fan base, everybody has the right to their opinion. Winning will cure all of that," the 41-year-old told a news conference at the club's practice facility.

The appointment raised some eyebrows due to Brown's failure to land an NBA title despite having been in charge of some of the league's best teams.

Brown coached the Cavaliers for five seasons before being dismissed following the 2009-2010 campaign, when the club had the top record in the East but stumbled badly in the playoffs.

The Lakers introduced Brown just 10 minutes after he signed his contract to replace Jackson, the most successful NBA coach of all time.

"I'm not sure what size shoe he wears, but I'm not here to fill them," Brown said of his predecessor, adding: "I'll define the culture, I'll define the roles."

Seeking to squelch any speculation about friction between himself and Lakers standout guard Kobe Bryant, Brown said: "This is still Kobe's team. His role will not change."

He said he had communicated at length with Bryant via telephone, text message and in person.

Brown said he expected his players to embrace his coaching philosophy, which he said hinged on "communication," "trust" and a "no-excuses mentality."

"In time, if they haven't bought in right away, or if they don't in the first week, they will," he said. "If they don't there's going to be a problem, because I'm going to hold everyone accountable."

He deferred questions about plans for personnel changes or additions to the team to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.

Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke was one who believes Brown is the wrong man for the Lakers.

"(Brown) is best known for being badly outcoached in both post-seasons as the Cavaliers failed to take the top seeding into the finals, last season losing in the conference semi-finals to a Boston team that made them quit," he wrote.

In 2008-09, the Cavaliers were 66-16 in the regular season but lost to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals.

During the 2006-07 campaign, the Cavaliers mounted a surprising playoff run to win the East but played poorly in the NBA finals and were swept in four straight.

Jackson led the Chicago Bulls to six league championships in the 1990s before taking Los Angeles to five, ending his career earlier this month when the Lakers were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of this season's playoffs.

(Writing by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Steve Gorman/Nick Mulvenney)