Mike Brown must be a happy man today. He should be. After being relieved of his duties as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers five games into the 2012-13 season, Brown has 20 million reasons to flash that wide, charismatic smile of his. I wonder if the city of Cleveland is as happy as Brown is.
Let’s hope so. Let’s also hope Cleveland Cavaliers fans don’t go back into acting stupid by trashing the city as they did when LeBron James decided to take his talents to Miami. They probably won’t. Perhaps those wacky, immature fans have finally grown up.
What those fans should do is bring out the welcome mat for Brown, who guided the team to back-to-back 60 plus wins seasons and a NBA Finals berth before owner Dan Gilbert went brain dead and removed him from the scene.
After the great Byron Scott project blew up in his face, Gilbert have come around to his senses and realize that perhaps he should have never fired Brown in the first place. It’s one thing to tell someone that you made a mistake and that you’re sorry for doing them wrong.
It’s quite another to say I’m sorry in 20 million different ways. To the tune of a five-year, $20 million contract deal, Gilbert apologized to Brown and hired him back as the head coach of the Cavaliers. That’s a whole lot of money to kiss and make up. But Brown will take it.
After being jilted by Gilbert and the Cavaliers for what they thought was a more attractive, alluring alternative, it looks as if the team came to the conclusion that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.
In 20 million hints, the Cavaliers let the NBA world know that Brown is their man. That’s a good thing. The re-kindled partnership between Brown and the Cavaliers should make for some interesting basketball in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
If Brown can take a do-rag bunch of players, along with LeBron James, to the NBA Finals, his now vetted head coaching experience surely will allow him to prosper even more the second time around. Granted, James was the biggest piece of the Cavaliers’ puzzle during the run in which Brown directed Cleveland to five straight playoff appearances.
But before Brown arrived on the scene, the Cavaliers were in the dweller of the NBA’s bottomless pit of the irrelevant and who cares department. With the exception of the play of last year’s NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving, it’s been pretty much the same way since Brown left town a couple of years ago.
Now that he’s back, Cleveland should flourish under Brown. With Irving as a key building block, Brown has a chance to duplicate or do better than what he did in his first stint as coach of the Cavaliers. The current state of the Eastern Conference is a good reason why.
When Brown and James were at their best, the Cavaliers fell to a great San Antonio team in the NBA Finals and ran up against a wall in the Boston Celtics. People have to remember that if not for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, Brown and James would have went to NBA Finals a couple of more times.
When you think about it, James had to go up against three sure-fire Hall of Famers in Pierce, Garnett and Allen, while Brown was strategizing against one of the top three coaches in the NBA in Glen “Doc” Rivers. Brown and James still pushed and battled the Celtics, who went on to the NBA Finals consecutively after ousting the Cavaliers. If anything, Brown and James should have been given more kudos and love than they were shown by the Cavaliers. Instead, the Cavaliers and their fans practically ran both men out of town in different ways.
James has made two trips to the NBA Finals since his departure from Cleveland. James and the Miami Heat are good bets to make it a third run this season. Brown took the Lakers to the playoffs after the strike-shortened season last year. Shame on Cleveland.
People who never have anything don’t fully appreciate gold until someone else discovers it. That’s the thing with Cleveland. The city has been left heartbroken when it comes to their sports teams that it sometimes defies logic and reasonable thinking.
Craig Ehlo is still waiting for Michael Jordan’s jumper (The Shot) to clang off the rim. The Cleveland Browns still can’t see John Elway’s “The Drive” in the 1987 AFC Championship Game coming. The nightmare of “The Fumble” the following year to Elway and the Broncos in the 1988 AFC title game by running back Earnest Byner haunts the Browns and their Super Bowl-deprived fans today.
And let’s be clear about something: “The Chosen One” is not coming back, at least in this writer’s opinion.
So, Cleveland celebrate the fact that you have a great coach back in your midst. Do a better job appreciating him this time around. With the Eastern Conference being not as strong overall in comparison the Western Conference, Cleveland, under Brown, can make some real noise.
I wouldn’t bet on the Atlanta Hawks to do anything. The Boston Celtics are about one season away from picking up their Social Security checks.
Chicago still don’t know if Derrick Rose will be the same dominant player he was before he went down with the devastating knee injury that kept out for a entire season. The New Jersey Nets is quite simply a mirage. The New York Knicks don’t who they want to be.
The Indiana Pacers are nothing special to talk to mama about. They say timing is everything. And the timing can’t be more right Brown to steer the Cavaliers back into a playoff-contending team. He has 20 million reasons to do so.