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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cavs Fire Mike Brown After Best Five Year Run in Franchise History

No one can be surprised that the Cleveland Cavaliers fired Coach Mike Brown. His fate was sealed when LeBron James quit in game five of the Boston series as a prelude to the entire team surrendering meekly to the Celtics in the waning moments of the sixth game, declining to foul to extend the clock and instead wandering around looking completely disinterested; after failing to reach their stated goal of winning an NBA championship, the Cavs clearly needed to sacrifice a scapegoat and owner Dan Gilbert was not going to put any public pressure on James, the two-time MVP who has been coddled by the organization for several years and whose impending free agency status hangs over the franchise like a Sword of Damocles. Despite being the most successful coach in franchise history, Brown never was very popular among media members--who did not find him to be particularly colorful or quotable--nor did Brown capture the imagination of the fans, many of whom ignorantly feel that they could coach a LeBron James-led team to 60-plus wins.

However, just because Brown's firing was inevitable does not mean that it was fair and it does not mean that the Cavs will find a replacement who can do a better job. My newest article for CavsNews.com places Brown's coaching career in historical context and sounds a cautionary tale for those who assume that the team is better off now:

Cavs Fire Mike Brown After Best Five Year Run in Franchise History

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posted by David Friedman @ 2:00 PM


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At Tuesday, May 25, 2010 4:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


there was issues with lebron and mike brown at the end of the season and that was ultimately his fate with team. he is a very good coach i dont know if he can put you over the top though his offensive philosophy was questionable alot of lebron going one on five at times and he was too much of a fan of lebron i dont think lebron respected him like kobe respect phil dwayne respected pat riley etc he never got on lebron and let lebron know when he is doing wrong like a coach is supposed too.

i think in his next job he will do better than he did in this one i know he had alot of reg season wins but this team was a championship or bust last two years and they flamed out twice ultimately the coach has too go plus when youre not on the same page as your star player, thats never a good thing david im not saying its totally his fault of course lebron quit on him in game 5 and team as whole didnt get it done but he is head honcho so he is going to take the blame.

lebron gave the old no comment im on vacation lol obvisouly thats telling enough i think he needs phil jackson or pat riley someone with the rings and cache to coach lebron ike kobe and jordan did.

other than that youre right there is no real upgrade dont think tom tibbedoh is or dan majerle kevin mchale, bryron scott been to two finals avery johnson been to one but brown is as good as them.

where you see mike ended up next year david.

At Tuesday, May 25, 2010 5:38:00 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

As a general rule, I have a hard time believing that a team that defends and rebounds as consistently as this Cavs team did for the last few years is poorly coached. People say that Brown's offense relied too much on LeBron, but to the extent that that may be true, I would suggest that LeBron prefers it that way. How would he function in a more diverse offense like the Triangle where he wouldn't have the ball in his hands quite so much? (This is another reason I find the 'Lakers - Kobe + LeBron = 73 wins' equation so dubious, but that's a subject for another day.)

The fact is David, Phil Jackson has won 10 rings and never missed the playoffs, and some fools still think he rode the coattails of the great players he coached. It doesn't surprise me that Brown, without a Jackson-like resumé to back him up, would be given a raw deal for the same reason. As you pointed out though, the easy part was firing him - now who do they bring in that will deliver a championship (assuming His Royal Highness sticks around of course)?

At Tuesday, May 25, 2010 6:57:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Just because there were "issues" between LeBron and Coach Brown that does not mean that Coach Brown was at fault; we do not know exactly what went on between them and that is why in my article I said that Dan Gilbert needs to ask LeBron why he quit. If LeBron is uncoachable then it does not matter who the Cavs bring in to be the coach. I am not saying that LeBron is uncoachable but I think that the way that he quit in game five is disgusting and not befitting of someone with his talent.

I don't know where Coach Brown will end up but I believe that he will be successful. It would not surprise me at all if he someday coaches a team to an NBA title; obviously, at any given time there are only a handful of legitimate contenders but Coach Brown's defensive game plan is sound enough to lead that kind of team to a championship. Coach Brown proved that by leading the Cavs to the 2007 NBA Finals. His winning percentage and overall resume are better than all but a handful of current NBA coaches.

At Tuesday, May 25, 2010 7:09:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


You correct that a major measuring stick that knowledgeable people use to evaluate coaches is defensive efficiency and under Coach Brown the Cavs have been a very, very good defensive team.

There is no question that LeBron prefers to monopolize the ball offensively. LeBron is often called a "pass first" player but during his career he has averaged nearly 21 FGA/g, nearly two FGA/g more than Kobe. Kobe's numbers are a bit skewed because Kobe came off of the bench during the first two seasons of his career but there is still no question that LeBron's greatest skill is that he is a big-time scorer--and that is why the Cavs were in such trouble in game five versus Boston when LeBron inexplicably decided that he no longer wanted to score or even play hard.

It will be very, very interesting to see who the Cavs hire, particularly if their long shot hope of outbidding the Lakers for Phil Jackson falls through. As Mo Williams and Z said, the only way that firing Brown makes any sense is if the Cavs bring in Phil Jackson or some other Hall of Fame coach--but I find it hard to believe that Jackson would give up the opportunity to coach Kobe to come to Cleveland to deal with the LeBron circus. Jackson is near the end of his career, so the only reason for him to keep coaching is to win championships, not step back in the time machine and rehash the challenges that he had dealing with a young MJ and a young Kobe--with no guarantee that LeBron will ever figure things out the way that MJ and Kobe did. For all of their flaws/stubbornness as young players, MJ and Kobe clearly had a burning desire to be champions, while it is just not clear that winning an NBA title is LeBron's top priority. I hate to say it, but it seems like LeBron is more interested in spending a month as the focus of attention because of free agency than he is in spending a month playing all out to try to win a championship. Look at how LeBron is dominating the news cycle without even working at all! He is on vacation and yet everyone is still talking about him.

At Friday, May 28, 2010 12:31:00 PM, Blogger $9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

Do you think Lebron is watching Nash, Kobe and Pierce and thinking to himself, "Oh, "that's how you do it?" Or his huddling up with IMG strategizing over his global brand.

By the way, Amar'e Lebronned it last night-- 4 rebounds, 4 turnovers. Not good.

At Friday, May 28, 2010 12:52:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


It is hard to figure out exactly what LeBron is thinking.

I remember that in the 1980s Isiah Thomas and Mark Aguirre used to go watch their friend Magic Johnson play in the NBA Finals to get a sense of what goes on at that level of the game; eventually, of course, Thomas and Aguirre played for a Pistons team that won back to back titles. I've always thought that players who aspire to be champions should take an interest in watching champions play and I hate to hear someone say that he does not watch any games after his team is eliminated (not that LeBron said that but, on the other hand, there is no indication that he is following the playoffs now, either).


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