Windhorst: LeBron might have stayed if Mike Brown had been fired after 2009

I know it is old news. I also know that I am pulling a salacious quote from over an hour of audio that Brian Windhorst did with Jason Whitlock on his podcast. Still, it is very interesting for Cavs fans to consider that the Cavs might have been better off keeping their superstar player if they had fired the head coach after his team won 66 games and he was named NBA Coach of the Year.

Windhorst relayed to Jason Whitlock that he’s heard murmurs from LeBron’s camp that LeBron was less-than-pleased with the X’s and O’s that Mike Brown was putting on the board.

“That was the year that Mike Brown won coach of the year,” Windhorst said. “And LeBron was pretty much done with him then.” Windhorst went further still. “Someone really close to LeBron once told me, ‘Ya know if they’d fired Mike Brown one year early, he might still be in Cleveland.'”

Even if you’re a Cavs fan who is tired of LeBron talk, the conversation is fascinating and Windy again relays that he thinks LeBron’s time in Cleveland might not actually be done and highly doubts LeBron will finish his career in Miami.

Just for the record, Sam Amico reported (and was treated very skeptically by us and Windhorst) when he said the Cavs were split on Mike Brown’s future after the Cavs were bounced by Orlando in 2009.

  • Jared in LA

    Well, he went over to an Eric Spoelstra team, so he did that on himself if he’s talking about head coaches.  Widhorst should be punched in the throat, no way he comes back to the Cavs while he’s in his prime.  And I know Widhorst didn’t say “in his prime”….but when do you want Lebron James, now or when he’s 17 years into the league and is a shadow of his former self, wanting to be accepted by the Cleveland fans? 

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Yeah I don’t believe a bit of that.  LeBron knew his plan since he played in the Olympics with Wade and Bosh in 2008.  I mean, monkeys “might” fly out of my butt, but I’m not really counting on it happening.

  • BrownsFanSF

    I think I am ready for Windy to shut up now.  We don’t care, sorry he still does.

  • Sda4124

    Dittos  all the way around

  • Craig Lyndall

    In fairness Whitlock asked him about Mike Brown.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    If I hadn’t eaten that fifth bowl of ice cream the other night, I might have a rockin’ body.

    -Brian Windhorst

  • Harv 21

    Windy opines that he might come back here based on what? Because there’s this short, stocky dude with a hair trigger that’s been hanging around here and it’s my understanding that he also might have some say in that.

    Really don’t care anymore what sweet nothings LeBron is having Maverick Carter whisper to Windy these days.

  • theherd10

    LBJ can blow it out his @$$. That is all.

  • AMC

    Mike Brown was AWFUL in that series – his inability to use his defense to stop Orlando’s 3 point shooting instead of doubling Howard went a far way to costing the Cavs that series.

    That said, I don’t buy what Windhorst’s source is selling.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    I’m with everyone here: Windy is trying to set the stage for an LBJ return.  I’m also with everyone here: I’m not buying it.  I hate the Celtics and the vague “kinda hoping the Celtics win/rooting against the Heat” that comes with it.  Go Western Conference….I guess.

    Also, it was soooo great to hear some kid saying “good game, good effort” to the Heat as they entered the locker room after the loss tonight.  I didn’t just lose an ECF game at home and even I felt bad about myself being “consoled” by a 10 year old.

  • BrownsFanSF

    You are 100% right.  And as a Cleveland sports blog I know you guys have an obligation to report on it.  But Lebron and the Heat are locked in a super tough, super entertaining series and Kyrie and the Cavs are looking forward to a bright future and a HUGE draft less than a month away.  I just don’t get why people are still talking about this (I mean guess I do, I just don’t want to any more)

  • AS

    Bruce Almighty, anyone?

  • Swee

    Huh? Lebron not happy with a coach who helps them overachieve?  That team was weaker than the current Heat, so if Lme is happier callin’ the shots than playin’ in the finals, he got his..

    I don’ know if Mikey Brown was betta coach than ES, but.. proof is in the puddin’.. DWade made Champion w/o you LeBaby, what say you now?  MB in finals, DW finals champ, you.. Nothin’ without learning how to orchestrate a team.. 😉

    Fun to watch the NBA finals, huh LeBoy?

  • Ike

    Too little, too late, this is completely irrelevant.

    That said, I do believe that Orlando series was what first made Lebron leaving Cleveland a possibility. Behind the ECF in 2007, I think Lebron’s most impressive individual playoff series as a Cavalier was that Orlando series in 2009.  And he got absolutely no help from his coach or his teammates.

  • Natedawg86

    If we would have catered to Leb camp back in 2009 he would have had that much of a bigger head and would have been that much of a bigger prick thinking he runs the roost.

  • Swig

    I would also like to hear said source’s opinion on why lebron never committed here, hurting our free agent chances. Then instantly recruiting everyone when he stepped off the plane in miami

  • Chiricm

    I disagree. That TEAM was not a weaker TEAM than the current Heat. Now, if you want to talk overall talent, well, the 3 goofs down there tip the scales.  But that Cavs TEAM was a pretty good TEAM, albeit one that just didn’t have enough explosiveness (and probably offensive coaching) to win it all. 

    At the same time though, you don’t just accidentally win that many games 2 years in a row based on 1 guy (seeing as how that 1 guy hasn’t duplicated that win total in his 2 years playing with more raw talent down there).

    The Magic played the series of their lives, shot lights out, and had a bona fide superstar of their own. That Cavs team also battled a much younger and fresher Celtics team very hard in its first year. I can’t say the same about the team the current Heat are losing to. 

    It’s all over and done with now, but I do think the perception that the Cavs were a bad team needs to be done away with.

  • Roosevelt

    The reason this is a non-story to me is that even if it’s true that Lebron would have stayed, firing Brown would still have been the wrong move. If Lebron had announced that he was leaving unless Brown was fired, we might have gotten a trade for him, but we still would not, and should not, have fired Brown. And when Orlando (who didn’t just win 66 games) deals with Howard this season, it will become clear why you don’t just fire a coach on the threats of a star. 

  • Boomhauertjs

    Except Delonte, which is kinda ironic…

  • mgbode

    I’d like to know when BW had his spine surgically removed and replaced with LeBron’s mouthpiece.   Pretty sure it was in December of LeBron’s last year in Cleveland when he decided to keep quiet on a private meeting between Riley and LeBron.

    Anyways, this is just more drivel trying to continue to gain public support back for LeBron.  We have seen it all year with the stories that he “might” come back and now that he “might” have stayed.  He wants Cleveland to forgive him because then everyone else will and that is good for his brand.

    Stay strong Cleveland.  Nearly 50yrs of sports-angst should be good for something.  We can keep Art out of the HOF and we can keep LeBron’s brand from ever fully recovering.  

  • mgbode

    that one rebound that would have sealed the game that glanced off his fingertips still rests in my mind.  not his fault, but we would have won had he gotten to it.

  • mgbode

    let’s not forget that Rashard Lewis (who killed us) was doping and this was not revealed until they magically *pun* got matched up with the Lakers in the Finals.

  • KrisB

    Nobody really mentions this, but, in hindsight, aren’t we glad Lebron left?  He’s a regular season star, can’t close games, hates Cleveland and it’s impossible to build a team around.  We now have ROY Kyrie now and the mindset to build a real team, not one star with mediocre support cast.

  • mgbode

    no.  5 season rebuild from him leaving to becoming a true contender again.  6 if you count that sham of a last postseason with him.

  • Steve

     No. I’ll gladly take my chances with an easy 60 win season and home court throughout the playoffs over 20 wins and hoping the next couple lottery picks work out.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Mike Brown should have been fired for all his supposed defensive coaching abilities his offense was a joke.  Brown showed those same tendencies this past season with the Lakers who have more talent then the Cavaliers ever did.  If he can’t do it in LA he won’t do it anywhere.

    The problem was Brown and Ferry were linked at the hip and this decision rests with Dan Gilbert.  He thought he could import San Antonio’s success by hiring ex-Spurs personnel the problem was he needed players and not staff.

    Now as far as what LeBron may or may not have done I don’t believe anything that I don’t hear come directly out of the horses mouth.  Sorry that’s played out let Miami enjoy that facet of his “game.” 

    Regardless this is all old news and doesn’t matter I just wanted to chime in because at the time I thought Mike Brown was the weak link and needed to go.

  • john g

    Widhorst is a dumbass, that fatboy suggested that the Heat trade DWade after they lost game 3 against the Pacers. Anything he says is just BS

  • Steve

     Mike Brown’s offense can be clogged up by a ball-hogging wing and works much better in a place where the star is a big man willing to pass (San Antonio), but the offense in LA last year was still pretty good despite that team looking old really quickly, and it was more than fine here, where his teams were top 5 in offensive efficiency when they finally got some horses around Lebron. Brown still gets an unfair rap from the days when he had to find a starting backcourt out of the combination of Snow, Hughes, Pavlovic, Ronald Murray, Damon Jones, and Gibson. When his backcourt became Mo Williams and West, suddenly he had a prolific offense. Strange how that works.

  • EyesAbove

    I dont buy it, I think this is another awkward attempt by LeBron to get people in Northeast Ohio to kinda sorta like him again. “Hey Windy, if it ever comes up tell people I might have stayed if it wasnt for Mike Brown”. Any coaching change short of bringing in Phil Jackson would not have changed LeBron’s mind about leaving. He didnt wanna be here, period.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The Xs and Os could be talked about all day particularly with those teams which is what the problem was like you mentioned.  I don’t blame LeBron because he carried those teams on his back whether it was the players or the coaches.  The unfortunate thing for LeBron is he left Cleveland for what he thought was greener pastures and a more talented ensemble and as we sit here he’s one game away from being eliminated.  Eliminated by a much older perhaps less talented but definitely a team called the Boston Celtics.  Yes I’m am most definitely smiling!!

  • KrisB

    You’re entitled to your opinions, but I’d rather model the Cavs after the Thunder then the Heat.

  • mgbode

    the Cavs with LeBron were following the Cuban model if anything (one superstar and grab a bunch of supporting cast through trades taking on salary).

  • Bryan

    We would clearly be better from a basketball perspective if LBJ stayed.  But, as fans, I think him leaving made us better.  We aren’t as desperate for a championship, we aren’t beholden to a single player, and we have a deeper appreciation for our pride in our hometown.  

  • Almexdf1

    I think is time for Le bron to move again, may be to L A, where  he may get a ring.

  • Mike 0204

    Here is a different angle…  If Byron Scott had been the coach from Lebron’s day 1, Lebron would have developed into a different kind of man.  Lebron may have eventually left Cleveland, but most probably with a ring.

  • Paul OhioSprtzfan Sink

    After the curent contract LeChoke is signed too I wouldnt be surprised if he came back to CTown(that would be after 10/11 seasons),not 17 not commented on by another.Because of LBJ being naive and listening to his posse to much he really didnt realize the wrath of hate that would come down upon him,not only from NEOhio but the rest of the NBA arenas also.Windhorst rise through the ranks has been great and he is reporting which is his job as a reporter,right?

  • GarE

    Actually, it’s a lot less fascinating than you think it is, Craig.

    What team in history has ever fired a coach after he’s named Coach of the Year?  What team ever would?

    And now that LBJ has proven he can’t win in Miami any more than he could in Cleveland, what difference would it have made if he’d stayed or not?

    He didn’t want to be here.  I’m glad he’s gone.  We’ll enjoy Kyrie… till he either wins us a championship or pulls an LBJ himself!  Whoever they are, if they don’t want to stay, we don’t need  ’em.  We’ll be just fine.  Go Celts!

  • Jmounts1

    No one cares what he might have, maybe or whatever.  He left and that is that.  There will be no redemption here.

  • Mikemartin1977

    forget coach of the year magic had his coach fired after winning a championship