Best Coach Orange County 2012 - Mike Brown
Coaching the Lakers in the championship-banner shadows of Phil Jackson is no easy task—just ask Rudy Tomjanovich, who bailed on the team mid-season in the aftermath of the Shaq-Kobe explosion in 2004. Add to that pressure a lockout-shortened season, no training camp, a trade for Chris Paul swatted down by Commissioner David Stern, a laughable bench and, of course, whiny Laker fans who don't know how to take a few losses, and that's the tall order former NBA Coach of the Year and current Anaheim Hills resident Mike Brown signed up for last season, taking it all the way to the playoffs. A tougher-than-usual, but no less surprising, first-round, seven-game series win saw Magic Johnson turning up the heat on Brown, pondering his firing had the team failed to prevail. Surviving, the coach avoided a repeat of the embarrassing second-round sweep last year, pulling out a win against the Oklahoma Thunder that could have been more if only this, that and everything else had happened. Now with this summer's offseason acquisitions of Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison, there's no excuse for the defensive-minded coach to not accomplish here what eluded him in Cleveland with LeBron James: an NBA Championship.