The Cavs turned back the clock yesterday. They introduced Mike Brown as the team’s head coach. For the second time. Just three years after firing him. That’s unheard of. Some people may remember him as the guy with the ever-changing glasses whose first opportunity as a head coach was with LeBron James. Others may remember him as the guy with the really bad offense that continuously got exposed in the playoffs both in Cleveland and Los Angeles. Then there are others that will remember him as a great defensive mind and the guy who took the Cavs to the playoffs five straight years, earned Coach of the Year honors in 2009 and still got fired at the end of the 2010 season despite winning 61 games. Mike Brown has his flaws. His roster is not nearly as good as it was the first time around in Cleveland. He couldn’t win a championship with LeBron James. He couldn’t win one in the one season with Kobe Bryant. It’s hard to see it happening with this group of Cavaliers. But by making this hire, the Cavs are admitting that firing him three years ago was a mistake they were willing to correct. It also makes the Cavs look like a reactionary franchise without a plan.
Mike Brown joined 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland with Bull And Fox to talk about how this deal came together so quick, on the challenge of making the Cavs good on defense again, how being around LeBron James and Kobe Bryant has helped him, whether he thinks he was fired in a last-ditch effort to keep LeBron in Cleveland and whether he thinks there is pressure on him a second time around in Cleveland.
How this came together so quick:
“They reached out to me at the end of last week for the first time and after getting over the initial shock of hearing from these guys again I spoke with my wife and thought about all the things that made this job attractive while I was here to begin with. The level of commitment from Dan Gilbert and his group, the thorough work ethic that Chris Grant and his staff display and you look at the roster with the young nucleus and then with Anderson (Varejao) and then the city and passion that the fans have for not only the Cavs but for all their sports teams, for us it was definitely an exciting thing that we were definitely interested in pressing forward with.”
On the challenge of making the Cavs good on defense again:
“It is going to be a process just from the standpoint of my language is probably going to be different than Byron (Scott), which is different than every other coach in the business. Everyone has their own unique philosophy. It’s going to take some time and take some understanding from our guys and some belief in order to get it right on the defensive end of the floor. Watching this group from afar, they look like they want to win, they look like they want to give you as much as they can and that is all you can ask for to start with. Now from there it will just become a daily process of drilling it, seeing it, and hearing it. Then doing stuff live in practice until we get into game situation to be able to get better and correct those things as we go along.”
How being around players like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James has helped him:
Just being around guys you had mentioned, a guy like Tim Duncan or Chris Webber when I first got into the business, Rod Strickland and Mitch Richmond and I can go on and on about the opportunities I’ve had to work with guys that have become special players or people in this business. It all helps. Just like when you coach for very good to great coaches in Greg Popovich, Rick Carlisle, Bernie Bickerstaff, you take a little piece from every experience that you go through and formulate your own philosophy. I don’t think you can treat each individual the same but going through experiences good and bad with all the great individual players that I’ve been able to be around and worked with has helped prepare me not only to work with Kyrie (Irving), but for the rest of the guys on the staff.”
On Dan Gilbert saying it was a mistake to fire him three years ago:
“He didn’t have to say that. That was something you appreciate because it takes a lot for anyone, let alone Dan Gilbert, to stand up in front of the whole world and say something like that. It’s much appreciated, it’s something he didn’t have to say but you you do appreciate him as a person and his level of commitment in trying to bring a championship here to Cleveland. That’s part of the reason why myself and my family felt fortunate enough to be able to come back to such a great place.”
Do you think you were fired because they thought that would better help them keep LeBron?
“Let’s put it this way, I was done I think May 27th so there was still a month and a half before LeBron had to decide whether or not he wanted to stay here or go to Miami or go to wherever. I was nowhere near the picture when that decision happened. He did not stay. Obviously, I think anybody can determine from that standpoint that whether I was here or not, that had nothing to do with his decision making during that time.”
Whether he thinks there is a lot of pressure on him the second time around:
“To me, pressure is something that can bother you if you are not prepared. The one thing I know that we will be is we will be prepared. We may hit some road blocks or stumble along the way but that is part of this process. We are going to dust ourselves off, get back up and keep pushing forward. The pressure thing is not something that I think is a big deal. I think anytime you are in a position, like the seat that I sit in, or anybody else that is close to this seat, you get scrutinized. That’s what people do. I’m more than okay with that because that is what brings out the passion in people. I don’t feel any pressure at all because our team will be prepared to face any obstacle in front of us.”