Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant dunks the ball in the first quarter of… (Steve Dykes / EPA )
There are a precious few out there who can tell a fast-growing chorus of Lakers critics to be quiet. Or, more directly, to shut up.
Meet Kobe Bryant, chief disciplinarian, ready to step forward with the Lakers having lost their first two games of the regular season before facing the Clippers on Friday night. In fact, the Lakers have dropped 12 straight if you include the final two playoff games of last season and the eight preseason losses.
"Now you have Mike Brown telling everybody to be patient," Bryant said Thursday of the Lakers' coach. "Back then, it was Phil Jackson telling everybody to shut up."
Now Bryant can do it … for Brown.
"Because I've won, so I can," Bryant said. "So I'll say it for him: Everybody shut up. Let us work."
This was a clever veteran move to try to defuse a situation that could quickly get out of hand. It was one day after Bryant declared he was not a happy camper in Portland. The last time the Lakers won a game was May 18, which was Game 3 of the playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers have not opened a season 0-3 since 1978-79, the year before Jerry Buss purchased the team.
Not only has there been media criticism about the Lakers, but it has been coming from past and present NBAers, including Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
"I'm always surprised when I lose," Bryant said. "At the same time, it [the panic] is pretty entertaining to me. Nobody wants to win here more than I do. Nobody. Nobody .
"And I'm not panicking over it. Or jumping off a bridge because we're 0-2 or whatever."
He offered an interesting response to the growing cry that Brown's Princeton-based offense be scrapped.
"I just … I don't understand … the city here," Bryant said. "They've seen us win multiple championships here, playing an offense that was tough to learn that was a sequence of options that weren't set plays that took five guys being on the same page of working together," referring to Jackson's triangle offense.
"They know how that stuff works. For them to be so stupid now ...."
Brown said that Steve Nash, who was injured at Portland and has a bruise on his left shin, was doubtful for Friday night. Nash did not practice Thursday. Neither did Bryant, but he is expected to play against the Clippers.
"Maybe I'm too optimistic to say doubtful," Nash said. "But it's definitely touch and go."
Brown has been consistent in saying Nash has the green light to run whatever offense he wants to run, adding that Nash didn't want to play pick-and-roll because it wears him out.
"It's not that it wears me out," Nash said. "Right now I want to try to get the offense going, get the guys comfortable, get everyone's confidence up. We'll find a happy medium at some time down the road."
Said Brown: "We can say, 'Steve, go play pick-and-roll.'….He did it in Phoenix for a long time. They won a lot of games. It was fun to watch. Where were they in May?"