Mike Brown doesn’t fault Dan Gilbert for letting him go in Cleveland, proclaims his relationship with LeBron James is ‘fine.’January 16, 2012 – 6:00 am by Steven Cuce
In the “Summer of 2010” the NBA world will always remember LeBron James and his decision. It was the changing of the guard in the NBA as free agent movement changed the game forever, particularly superstar players teaming up to play with each other.
One of the forgotten stories in the fallout of the Cleveland Cavaliers was Mike Brown. Sure LeBron James leaving the Cavs was a devastating blow to the franchise and the fan base. Dan Gilbert certainly hasn’t been shy about conveying his emotions about superstar players controlling the NBA.
For Mike Brown he was let go by the Cavs with the speculation being he never got along with LeBron James. Brown sets the record straight in the following interview, opening up about the aftermath in Cleveland as LeBron took his talents to South Beach.
Mike Brown joined 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland with Kiley & Booms to discuss the aftermath of being fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers, his current relationship with LeBron James, his relationship with LeBron James helping him coach Kobe Bryant, the Chris Paul trade falling through for his team and this Lakers team being different than Phil Jackson’s Lakers.
Take us through the time immediately after you left the Cavaliers up until you got the job with the Lakers. Did you see it coming? Who contacted you? How did that whole thing work?
“Dan Gilbert and I, we were in contact at the end of the season and we had talked for about a week and he just felt they needed to go in another direction, especially with all the speculation going on with LeBron [James]. LeBron possibly leaving and so on and so fourth. I don’t fault him at all. It’s his team. He’s done a terrific job putting that team on the map because without his commitment? I don’t care who is in uniform. I don’t care who is coaching the team? You are not going to win without ownership that has a plan and it’s backing whatever plan it is to have success. I understand it is a business. I thanked him for the opportunity he gave me and I moved on. The one thing we worried about as a family is we didn’t know how the fans in Cleveland would react. We were a little concerned with our kids being in school and this happening to me for the first time. We actually thought about moving. We ended up staying there for a month or so and the fans and the people in the city? I tell you what guys they were terrific. The kids at my kids’ schools they were great with them too. The faculty? I can’t say enough about the city and how they treated me when I was coaching. It was great. Even when I got let go? It was just as good if not better in terms of how the public perceived myself and my family. I appreciate that. That was very special to us and it leaves a special place in our heart because of what occurred after more so after I got let go than before.”
The perception was that somehow you and LeBron James didn’t get along. Talk about your relationship with LeBron James while you were here. What was your relationship after you were let go and LeBron James made his decision? Have you talked since? How is your relationship with him today?
“We have been in contact after I had gotten let go. We had texted each other a few times. We emailed each other a few times. Now we haven’t talked in…I don’t know six, seven, eight months maybe? We haven’t communicate via text or email in awhile, but when I had gotten let go, probably within the next six-to-eight months after that we had been in contact a few times with each other. Our relationship was fine. It was a player/coach relationship probably a little bit more than that, but it was fine. There was not a time at all where he was dismissive of me or he didn’t do what I had asked him to do or anything like that. I thought we had a great working relationship. I thought we had a lot of success. I understand the business. I understand how speculation and rumors float about and it’s something as you guys know it is what it is. There’s no need for me to fight it. I just let it go and as long as I am okay with the person I’m dealing with? It is kind of similar to here. Everybody was saying that Kobe [Bryant] has not approved of me or whatever. You hearing all this type of speculation. People don’t know Kobe and I? We had been in contact quite a bit before we even met face-to-face. We had been in contact via text and via phone, so he even asked me if he had to come out and say something publicly? I told him no. I said: ‘Hey I know I am good with you and you are good with me and that’s all I need.’ People can speculate because it is part of the business and I accept it.”
Did your relationship with the superstar, LeBron James, help you with Kobe Bryant?
“It did from the standpoint that the media attention – I think we were on national television more than anybody else the last two years and from my understanding I heard that Dr.Buss and his crew in terms of the decision making people here – Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss. One of the things they thought was a positive was that I had an opportunity to work with recently a high level superstar in LeBron and they felt that with all the attention that was garnered from the speculation of LeBron possibly leaving. They felt I had handled from outside looking in that I handled whatever my part was and I handled it the right way knowing that there was going to be a lot of speculation here with Kobe and the media attention the Lakers get. They felt I was prepared to deal with that from what they were seeing from my relationship with LeBron and/or the relationship I had dealing with the media when the stuff that came up with LeBron. It helped me immensely in a lot of different ways and there’s some things that’s made me say: ‘You know what? I’m going to keep doing things this way. There are some things that maybe I said. I might change this. I might change that to try to get more out of the situation.’ “
I was going to ask you about the Chris Paul thing. Take us through your frustration of watching the Los Angeles Clippers be able to get Chris Paul and your team couldn’t. How did you handle that?
“The only thing I was frustrated in was that the deal went as far as it went and then we had to go tell our players no. I wasn’t really too worried about other teams having tell their players no, but when you have to do that it makes it tough on every body and I’m new to this crew here. Yes I did know about the deal. Yes I knew it was going to happen, but in the same breath when I took this job I was excited about the guys we had here too. I had already had a game plan with the guys we had here also. I felt like either way we would have had a championship caliber team and when the deal fell through knowing it was out of my control? I was just ready to roll up my sleeves and try to make right with the guys that we had in the trade, so our season would not be effected. I felt like we would have a chance to win either way. Our team would have been different with Chris Paul, but I believe whether we had Chris Paul or the current team I was going to be excited about what we had in front of us and it’s one of the reasons why I went after this job as oppose to the others that were open.”
How are these Lakers different than the Phil Jackson Lakers?
“It’s funny. It is a great question because from my understanding I have a guy that I know for awhile that I have retained from Phil’s staff in Chuck Person. He was with Phil for two years. There are a lot of players that are still here from Phil’s era and from what I hear there are a lot of things that are different whether it is on the floor or off the floor. I just do things differently than him or he does things differently than me. [Kiley: Can you give us some examples?] The way our practices are structured. I tend to go a lot longer and a lot harder and he focuses on certain things in terms of the overall or big picture of what they are trying to do, especially offensively with the triangle. We do a lot more drills and break downs and stuff like that. The way he teaches is more holes as oppose to the way I teach, which is more parts to holes. Having said that from my understanding and my feel on it I think either way can work. My style is similar to the way Gregg Popovich and Rick Carlisle teach or coach. Both of those guys have had a lot of success doing what they do, but you can’t take away from the success that Phil had with the 10 or 11 championships rings. Kobe Bryant told me he gets asked this question a lot of times. His response is there are a lot of different ways to skin a cat.”