Not that anyone really cares, but I first must say that I am happy for Mike Brown. By all accounts, Brown is one of the true gentlemen in the game of professional basketball. Now that he will be the Lakers’ head coach, he has landed the premier coaching position in the game this side of maybe Boston. I must say though, I sure hope Brown follows the path of another head coach who was once run out of Cleveland; Bill Belichick.
Belichick wasn’t the super-genius that he would later reveal as head coach of the New England Patriots. Belichick had to take steps along the way including valuable lessons in what not to do in Cleveland. And really, who could blame him? He was a first-time head coach here. Same with Mike Brown.
Brown was a rookie head coach with terrific pedigree from the Spurs organization. That same organization is the one that humbled Brown and the Cavaliers in 2007 by sweeping the Cavaliers out of the NBA Finals. After winning a whole lot of basketball games and getting a coach of the year award, Brown was summarily dismissed after the Cavaliers faded (I’m being kind) as LeBron James was plotting his exit from Cleveland.
The history books will probably just look at the win totals and blame LeBron for his firing, but Brown had a hand in it too. Brown’s own mysterious handle on the Cavaliers offense after losing offensive coordinator John Kuester had a lot to do with it. A mysterious set of rotations, which included benching J.J. Hickson after he started much of the season were all a part of the strange, inexplicable voodoo that ended up putting the nail in his coaching career coffin in Cleveland.
Some have already re-written that history and forgotten that Brown sometimes seemed listless dealing with veteran personalities, rotations and in-game adjustments over the years in Cleveland. That’s fine, but those of us who watched over the years know the truth. Mike Brown’s teams played exceptional basketball at times including dominant defense. He had a reticence to develop younger players, and struggled with rotations and offensive philosophy. He also never seemed to impose his will that the LeBron James dribble-out-the-clock-at-the-top-of-the-key-and-jack-a-fade-away play to end quarters and games was unacceptable. Those are the facts. Mike Brown teams had flashes of brilliance, but seemed to hang by a thread over a cliff a lot of the time. It seems impossible to say considering how many games the Cavaliers won with Brown at the helm. I still believe it to be true, though.
The job should be a little bit easier in L.A. you would think because the personalities that are there working together have already proven that they are good enough to win a championship. Then again, to think that he won’t have egos to manage between Kobe, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and the rest is unrealistic. Because I like Brown, I hope he learned a few things from his time and ultimate exit from Cleveland. He needs to do more than just bring his brand of defensive toughness that everyone knows about. He must continue his path toward being a well-rounded head coach. If he doesn’t, his stay in L.A. will be significantly shorter than he had in Cleveland.