No Hard Feelings As Brown Gets To Work

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LAS VEGAS – Mike Brown was wearing a black coach’s polo shirt with the Cleveland Cavaliers logo, the “C” with the sword through it on the left breast, and it didn’t feel all that weird anymore.

“It was weird for a while,” Brown said Saturday after watching the Cavs’ Summer League team lose to Miami 82-76. “But it was a seamless transition for myself and my family. It almost, to a certain degree after we got over the initial shock of it, it almost felt like we never really left. It was almost like we went on vacation for a little bit.”

That’s certainly a pleasant way for Brown to describe his short tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers that ended after one full season and five games into last season. That’s when he was unceremoniously dumped by the Lakers following a 1-4 start. The basketball world expected Phil Jackson to come down from the mountaintop to replace him, but instead L.A. chose Mike D’Antoni. Everybody knows the roller-coaster season that followed, the infighting, the injuries, the criticism, the first-round sweep.

Then came the ultimate insult in the first week of July when Dwight Howard announced he was joining the Houston Rockets.

Brown said he paid little attention to the Lakers soap opera once he left, finding a way to separate his emotions from the job he had just lost coaching Kobe Bryant, just three years after being fired by the Cavs as the franchise panicked awaiting a decision, The Decision, from LeBron James.

“I watched Mater Dei High School basketball and I enjoyed it,” Brown said. “I appreciated the opportunity the Buss family gave me and [Lakers general manager] Mitch Kupchak. I enjoyed being around all the players and working with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol and those guys. But when they made the decision I was all-in with my family.”

And so Brown really can go home again, to the city he says he and family loves, where his youngest son wanted to return and graduate from high school with his old pals, to the place the Brown family was returning before he ever received a phone call. Then his phone rang.

The rest is a Q&A with new Cavaliers coach Mike Brown:

Q: Who made the first call leading to your return to the Cavs?

A: Chris Grant (Cavaliers general manager) did. He caught me off-guard a little bit, you know, but it was a business call more than anything else.

Q: Did it take some time to process his reason for calling?

A: No, it was just the first step because it was new to me and I’m sure it was probably fairly new to them, so it was a thing that was a process. But again, we were on our way back to the area regardless because we love the area. My youngest boy wanted to graduate from high school there with his friends and my oldest boy had signed with Butler University which was about a 4 ½ drive, so it was a nice fit. When the call happened it was just a thing to process more than anything else.

Q: Were you convinced there were no bridges burned on either end after your firing in 2010?

A: I never forget, one of the guys that I hired, Bernie Bickerstaff, that was one of the first things that he taught me. … He told me, ‘Young buck, don’t ever burn any bridges in this business or in life.’ It was an easy piece of advice for me to follow because that’s how I’m built. You appreciate any opportunity you are given in life and try to make the most of it. When I was here last time I had a fantastic ride, I thoroughly enjoyed everything I was involved with.

Q: Your team has an intriguing roster led by young All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and the front office made several moves to add depth. How complete do you believe this team to be?

A: We’ll see. First of all, this organization is one of the best, if not the best, top to bottom because it starts with your owner and our owner Dan Gilbert has a done a lot to make sure that we’re heading in the right direction toward a championship. And you go from him to Chris Grant and you look at the job that he’s done with little or no credit, in terms of the draft picks and the trades that he’s made in the past couple of years and you feel like with the roster and the staff that we put together, and having guys like Kyrie and Dion [Waiters] and Andrew [Bynum] and Andy [Verajao], so on and so forth, Jarrett Jack, that you feel like you have put a competitive team together and we should be able to go compete for a championship, which is my goal every year.

Q: Since returning to Cleveland, how have you found the emotional state of the fans three years after The Decision?

A: Pre-LeBron, post-LeBron, the Cleveland fans have always been terrific. Even the year that I was out [of coaching] and I was in Cleveland, we really enjoyed that area and walking around, whether it was downtown or out in Westlake where we live, and coming across fans in general because they’re very passionate. Not only about the Cavaliers, they’re passionate about the Browns, they’re passionate about the Indians and about their city, so they’re in a good mindset right now.”

Q: Do you sense the fans have renewed hope for the franchise or that a buzz has returned about the team?

A: Yeah, you feel that, and again you credit Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant for putting this thing together and trying to get us in the right direction before the actual season starts off. The buzz that is out there is a nice one right now, and hopefully it will be able to continue to stay like that through the course of the year and just progress.”

44 Comments

  1. A.J. says:

    What else was Brown going to say? He’s certainly not going to say the facts, which is Gilbert is going to have a fourth consecutive season near the bottom of the NBA in payroll, Grant has produced a three-season record of 64-166, and Gilbert and Grant led the franchise to the longest losing streak in modern professional sports history.

    But other than that, Gilbert and Grant have been terrific.

    • whyyousostupid says:

      U never heard of the nets or bobcats

      • Jamar Doyle says:

        I feel Coach Brown was a great selection for the Cavs. Firing Byron Scott was a bad move to begin with. Now a days, franchises dont allow players and coaches to grow together and mesh as an organization. Therefore, teams lack cohesiveness and tend to break up before ever even starting. Developing a championship caliber team doesnt happen over night. As a cavs fan, I realize in 2007 we werent ready to win a championship. The pieces werent there. Now I feel upper management did their part in getting the peices in place to atleast compete in the playoffs. Im not thrilled Coach Scott was fired but im excited about our new addition with Mike Brown. Both excellent coaches making due with often sub par teams….

  2. thaDeceiver says:

    Im not sure if this has been covered, but with the addition of Andrew Bynum whats going to happen to Andersen Varajao?

  3. Your not too smart says:

    Nixon is the worst commenter in hangtime blog history

  4. Ziden says:

    y wood someone want two go two a teem dat jest fired u!?!?! It does knot jest make any sense.

  5. Simmo says:

    great coach and harshly dealt with previously I thought… I can’t help but think as the Cav’s continue to rise, LBJ will eventually want a piece of the action..? maybe not and maybe, Gilbert has black listed him anyway!

  6. NJ_Nets says:

    They obviously think this will help recruit Lebron in the future… good luck

  7. Tyler bub says:

    They have a decent roster on the rise they still need to make some moves and figure out their roles.. Like who’s gonna start where ? Are they gonna build around kyrie and Bynum and Bennett? Or try to get lebron ? They need to make major decisions.

  8. sports fan says:

    Does this mean Cleveland will now be running the Princeton offense?

  9. Kimmy says:

    I think Brown is a great coach. And he is going to make the Cavs better. I think it’s weird that the Clevand Cavaliers or any “company” would fire someone then re-hire 3 years later. But as long as both parties have no hard feelings (as he said “its just business), why should we the fans care? Personally, I think the Cavs have bumped up several notches, so much so, that they will knock off teams like Celtics, Bucks and Hawks. And maybe even the Knicks…. We will see. I think the East will now be just as interesting and competitive as the West. Go OKC!

  10. Ryan V. says:

    I’m pretty sure that quote was meant to say. “I watched Mater Dei high school basketball, and I enjoyed it.” Otherwise that makes no sense at all.

  11. DaJoanna says:

    Okay Yeah Lebron left us (cleveland) and did his own thing. But we dont want him back !! lol he can stay in Miami or wherever he go and the cavs will compete at a playoff championship level. We have the skill and we can do it without a big time “superstar” #cavs #playoffs

  12. dmh says:

    The thing that I saw in Brown’s first tenure with the cavs was Lebron and his cronies running the ship. It was a delicate relationship that was doomed for failure. For anyone who says Lebron had no help in Cleveland, quit lying to yourself. Lebron did not have multiple allstars in Cleveland. However the 04 Pistons and the 13 Lakers in completely opposite ways proved that a championship is not won that way. Pieces fitting together in harmony to form a well oiled machine does win championships. Lebron did not figure that out until well after he left Cleveland. Of course nobody remembers anymore that the heat were at .500 during Lebron’s first 20 games in Miami there either, It was only after Lebron figured out how to oil the machine and figured out the best way to share the ball that Miami started winning.

    For the 2nd tenure to work with Mike Brown, upper management and Brown need to be the ones running the ship. Clearly defined roles based on each player’s strengths and weaknesses need to be established from day 1. Irving will still be the star and Bynum if healthy will be the 2nd star but, both players need to be on notice that if there are any shennanigans they will sit. Both players have capable backups behind them in Jack and Varajao/Zeller. The pf/sf situation with Bennett and Thompson is a good problem to have that will play itself out eventually. Remember Bennett is a rookie. Either player can be a trade chip in the right scenario. The cavs have set themselves up nicely. It will set them up for some success in the lowly east. The purrogative is that they don’t panic and screw it up for short term gains.

  13. Lance says:

    Not a terrible decision by the Cavs to rehire him. He’s a solid coach, has a terrific W-L record. Coach of the year, after back to back 60 win seasons. Good move by the Cavs as well showing Bron that the issues created during his final year there have been put in the past, and if he chose to return to cleveland in 2014, which I’d personally love to see, they’d be willing to embrace it.

  14. Volourn says:

    I know he has to do it since he is his boss, but the fact he praised Gilbert in any way, and called ‘the Cavs one of the best franchises’ makes me laugh. Hahaha!

  15. James says:

    They’ll never win anything with that stupid coach.

  16. Kamote says:

    I think its a good hire for the Cavs. Though everyone might wish a Karl, Sloan or Adelman… but Brown has some coaching philosophies this young team might need… for the meantime. During LBJ days, Brown has a young team with subpar star quality (aside from Lebron) to work hard on defense. This resulted to them being one of the East elites. I think the Irving era might need this defensive mindset be instilled to their young players. In maybe in two or three years, when the Cavs turned into one of the top defensive teams, a coaching change might be needed to take them to the next step.

  17. tv63 says:

    At first , Cav fans were mad they rehired Mike Brown. We believe we will see all defense and no offense the polar opposite of Bryon Scott. BUt we’re listening what he is saying that needs to be done on this young team.. He’s been very pro-active to the point he seems to be campaigning in Vegas about defense. lol We did see improvement in the summer league and a coach that was so much more engaging to the players on the court. There’s communication. No more crossed arms. Don’t worry; I’m not getting ahead of myself. It’s only summer league. BUt I liked what he said when he told the players… If you have a poor shooting game which you will time to time that you can depend on your defense to still get a win IF you play hard solid defense. It’s not as sexy to see a grind out game but it’s a whole lot less sexy to keep losing like the Cavs were before. Hopefully, we will keep seeing positive changes this season.

  18. RW says:

    “NO HARD FEELINGS”

    Do Cavs trying to send some a signal to Lebron?

  19. karugs says:

    bynum + brown = a whole season of headaches for kyrie irving

  20. germany says:

    @nixon – what do you mean worst coach ever and did nothing? Brown took the Cavs to the NBA Finals and 2 Seasons with back to back 60 game wins, with Lebron,. Did nothing?? I don’t understand what you are talking about. Please help me and clarify……….

  21. Dude says:

    Never understood the decision to re-hire Mike Brown. If they want lebron in 2014, hiring Brown was not the answer. If anything, Lebron will be turned off of the idea of going back to Cleveland if Brown is coaching. Not a smart move by the cavs

    • manie says:

      Lebron cant leave MIami. Miami has a great weather and they are still the team to beat. He has two rings with Miami how would he be seen if he leaves Miami for Cleveland. He will certainly loose allot of fans.

      • hi says:

        I completely agree with you, he won’t leave Miami now that they’re just starting to get hot. However, if he loses fans just because he left the Heat just means that those fans weren’t really rooting for him . . . they were just rooting for who everyone else was rooting for. In other words, the fans he’d lose were just bandwagoners.

      • akeem says:

        To hi,

        Banwagoners like the Cleveland fans. Look how they trashed him when he left Cleveland. I would NEVER go back to play for that city, that owner, or that governor if I were Lebron.

    • AL says:

      Dude you make no sense if you were a cavs fan youd know THE MAIN REASON HE DECIDED TO LEAVE was because they FIRED MIKE BROWN…

  22. Jereac54 says:

    To mr Nixon: Saying coach brown is the worst coach the cavalier has ever had kind of speak a little bit about yourself. The last time I heard that statement it was being made about our current president.

  23. Matthew says:

    Mike Brown is a players’ coach to some degree and will give those youngsters some freedom to play to their strengths. It’ll be hard to work an offense to balance Bynum’s touches with all that running and gunning the youngsters will be up to though.

  24. B Radd says:

    Brown has no skill set, next topic…

  25. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    LeBron will go to Cleveland in 2014!!!

    • artifex says:

      I don’t think so!
      1. He’s happy in Miami. 2. Cavs roster is quite full.
      It’s not that they wouldn’t unload it to get James and it may be worth it, but still I think I wouldn’t like it. Cavs put together a quite intreguing roster, several young talent – Irving, Witers, Bennett, Thompson… So, I look forward how they can develop (and I think they can go very far – maybe not this year but in 1 or 2 it’s finals potential). So why mix it all up again? Maybe it’s just the bigger media hype or is FA become bigger!? IIt seems theres no time for teams to develop anymore.
      Remember, it was in Jordan’s 7th season he made it first to the finals. Today, if you didn’t got to the finals in 2,3 years it’s called a bust… and rosters get overhaul. You see at the Mavs how far you get with that…

  26. nixon says:

    worst coach ever,had the best player on the planet and did nothing

    • tv63 says:

      Yeah Bryon Scott was so much better Right?

    • Da1-07 says:

      The cavs had the best record in the nba one season & was tied for the best home record, not to mention that they got to the nba finals against the spurs when he was their coach so how is he the worst again?

    • artifex says:

      agree Da1-07
      given the roster the Cavs had in 07-09 it is pretty impressive that they got ot the finals and conf-finals. You have to give credit to Brown and also to James, just shows how good James is – everyone got to admit that. But I think also credit belongs to Brown, who sets the team together on the floor…

    • ed says:

      Look at the defensive numbers, then say he was the worst coach. those numbers are outstanding and prove he’s a pretty good choice

    • slik1akaguru says:

      Nixon, it was truly more to it than the coach and it’s way too much to explain it to you…,so go and learn something before you start talking (in the future) OK!?

  27. J says:

    great article!!!

  28. joe says:

    I love Mike Brown