Various sources have reported this morning that the Cleveland Cavaliers have fired head coach, Mike Brown. Over his five seasons at the helm of the Cavs, Brown had the best winning percentage of any Cavs coach (.663) and helped bring an Eastern Conference Championship to Cleveland. However, given that Brown was blessed with the greatest individual talent the league has seen since Michael Jordan, the expectation was for Brown to help guide the Cavaliers to an NBA Championship. This was no more true than this year, when the Cavaliers spent extensively to bring in talent around LeBron James. James’s teammates would no longer be an excuse for losses after this year. And since James is the last person on Cleveland’s “blame list,” it was time for Brown to go.
Despite Brown’s regular season success, it was definitely time for him to go. Brown’s defensive chops, honed during his stint with San Antonio and coaching favorite Gregg Popovich, had become his calling card. His Cavalier teams always applied strong defensive pressure, particularly at home. However, Brown was slow to react to stimuli. He did not seem to have a nose for match-ups. Nor did he have the insight to develop LeBron James as a low post scorer. And if he did have the insight, he did not have the ability to convince James to work on that portion of his game. Brown’s deficiencies became particularly apparent during the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals. As Shaq and Antawn Jamison stunk up the front court, Anderson Varajao and J.J. Hickson sat on the bench for long stretches. Brown’s go to play, spread the floor and let LeBron create one-on-five, wore down his all word superstar and allowed defenses to dare lesser players to make the critical plays.
Brown was by no means the only reason Cleveland collapsed against the Boston Celtics this year. However, he was definitely one of the reasons, along with the terrible play of Antawn Jamison, and LeBron’s injured elbow. But Brown’s firing, ultimately, is not about laying blame. It’s about developing some hope of keeping LeBron James in Cleveland by bringing in a top notch coach into Cleveland that will inspire confidence in LeBron James and his supporting cast. Of course, the only problem is, there is no such coach available currently.