Kwame Brown has changed coasts, but not much else has changed.
Did anybody catch the Lakers-Suns game on TNT last night? Most of you guys were probably in the bed. Unfortunately, that meant that you missed seeing (or hearing) the Staples Center officially turn into Verizon Center West.
Yes, Brown was booed at home yesterday. In those same vile, unrelenting tones he once received in his last days in Washington.
It might not sound like such a big deal, but these are Laker fans! Laid-back California Laker fans who come for the Kobe Show and spend a good portion of the game star gazing. In the last year of his contract, and showing no improvement from the day arrived, Brown has turned them into hardened, angry people.
The Lakers were playing first home game since losing Andrew Bynum for eight weeks. When Brown went down with a sprained medial collateral ligament last November, Bynum was Brown's backup, and the Lakers were 6-3. While Brown was gone, Bynum emerged as a double-double machine and Kobe Bryant recently said that Bynum made them a "championship-caliber" team.
Kwame hasn't been all bad in Los Angeles. He had some decent playoff games two years ago, and was the starting center during the Lakers' best stretch last season, when the team went 16-8. Of course, he got hurt - what's new? - and the season collapsed from there.
But now that the Lakers have one of the best records in the Western Conference, the fans expect a little more from the former No. 1 pick. Not only was Bynum balling, but so is Caron Butler, the guy for whom Kwame was traded. Brown didn't do too bad in his first start since returning, when he had 10 points and 10 rebounds in Seattle on Tuesday, but it didn't take long for the fans to turn on him.
There was a smattering of boos when Brown missed a point blank layup early in the first quarter, but the fans really gave to Brown during the third quarter, booing every time he touched the ball for long stretches. Brown blew a dunk and committed four of his seven - yes, seven - turnovers during the period and Lakers Coach Phil Jackson had to yank him for good with 3:50 left, after he picked his fifth foul. Ugh.
"I wanted to let him work his way out of it and his teammates wanted him to work his way out of it," Jackson said. "It wasn't going to happen."
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
The funny thing was how the Lakers players and coaches reacted to the vitriol aimed toward Brown. Jackson said he'd never never coached a team where home fans did that to a player. Maybe he should give Eddie Jordan a call.
Here's Kobe: "I thought it was terrible," Lakers star Kobe Bryant said of the fans' behavior. "If they want to do that, they can stay home. He's going to be our guy here for two months. He's going to do fine, he's going to play well the next game.
"Kwame's sensitive. You boo him, it's going to affect him. I told him I've got his back."
Here's Jordan Farmar: "That's just not right. If you're here as a Laker fan, you should support your team through the good, the bad, the ugly."
Poor Kwame. The boos come during the same week when Sports Illustrated took a poll of 242 NBA Players who listed Brown as the player who gets the least out of the most talent. Brown received 17 percent of the votes to top Tim Thomas (10 percent), Eddy Curry (7 percent), Vince Carter (6 percent) and Darko Milicic (5 percent), among others.
Kwame, disappointing coast to coast.
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