L.A. Lakers Fire Coach Mike Brown After Fourth Loss

Mike Brown PR Image - P 2012
Noah Graham

Mike Brown PR Image - P 2012

UPDATED: Buying him out of his $18 million deal "wasn't an obstacle," according to team ownership.

The Lakers have fired head coach Mike Brown after losing a disappointing four out of five games this season -- one of the worst starts in franchise history. 

The news was confirmed in a statement from the team, in which general manager Mitch Kupchak reveals that Brown has been "relieved...of his head coaching duties."

Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will take over as interim head coach for tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors as a search for Brown's replacement gets underway.

“This was a difficult and painful decision to make,” Kupchak says. “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.”

Brown was hired by Jim Buss, son of Lakers owner Jerry Buss, to replace the retiring Phil Jackson in the summer of 2011. Prior to coaching the Lakers, Brown had spent five seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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He was fired from that post in 2010 after failing to guide the team to a championship victory, shortly before LeBron James left the team for the Miami Heat.

Brown's deal was worth a guaranteed $18 million in the first three seasons, with a team option on the fourth.

Buying Brown out of his contract "wasn't an obstacle" for the ownership, reports Yahoo sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

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Last season, the Lakers bowed out of the NBA playoffs in the Western Conference semifinals after losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. 

Over the summer, the Lakers acquired Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash to pair with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, fueling speculation that the team would return as a championship contender.

Bryant said the decision was "hard to deal with" in a statement posted on his official Facebook page. "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," he wrote.