Commentary: Did Anyone Expect Coach Mike Brown to Win in Cleveland?

Mike Brown

Commentary: Did Anyone Expect Coach Mike Brown to Win in Cleveland?

Blame Cavaliers owner for hiring twice a lousy coach he shouldn’t have rehired in the first place.

Published May 14, 2014

No one I know ever suggested that being rich can ensure a man has intelligence, too. I know some of the biggest fools on the planet are also some of the men with the biggest bank.

I saw a fool on parade late last month in Los Angeles with Donald Sterling, and in Cleveland earlier this year, I was witness to not LeBron James but Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

Now, welcome Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to the parade.

I knew Gilbert was just a 20-watt bulb when he lost James to free agency in 2010 and then drafted Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft last June.

If my doubts lingered about whether Gilbert had more cash than smarts, they were put to bed Monday when he fired a man he should never have rehired in the first place.

Less than a year ago, Gilbert was making up with Mike Brown, fresh from having been booted out of L.A. for the pathetic job he did in coaching the Lakers. Gilbert had fired Brown shortly before LeBron left Cleveland for South Beach.

In rehiring Brown, Gilbert talked about how wrong he was to let a man of Brown’s character and principles go.

Yes, Brown has principles; yes, he has character. But no, Mike Brown can’t coach a high school team, let alone a professional club. A list of worst NBA coaches ever might easily have his name on it.

He coached Kobe Bryant and LeBron, and Mike Brown has little to show for his work with either star.

Yet that never deterred Gilbert, who had firsthand experience with Brown’s ineptitude before hiring him a second time. He rehired a bad coach for no good reason – actually for no reason at all.

Did Gilbert lose his memory?

Did he forget how Brown let LeBron run the Cavaliers?

Great players like LeBron, Kobe and Michael Jordan need a coach who can rein in their excesses. Zen master Phil Jackson did so with Jordan and Kobe. Pat Riley did so with Magic Johnson, Shaq and Dwyane Wade before moving to the front office in Miami, and Doc Rivers made peace with three superstars in winning an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics.

Mike Brown won nothing with the two superstars he coached. Oops, I can make that number “three” superstars, because I certainly have to blame Brown for the sorry way he coached the Cavaliers on his second tour of duty when he had Kyrie Irving as his star.

While Irving’s no LeBron, Irving’s also no Steve Nash, a point guard with a lot of hype but with limited game. Unlike with Nash, a good coach can build a winning team around a star player like Irving; a great coach can build a title-caliber team around a star player like Irving.

But what can Brown do for you?

Not a thing, unless you look at earning your franchise more lottery picks as an accomplishment to applaud. That’s all Mike Brown was good for, even with Irving in the starting lineup.

I don’t blame Brown, a season into a five-year, $20 million contract, for returning to Cleveland. I blame the man who brought him back; I blame the man with the 10-digit bank account; and I blame the man who let LeBron get away.

I blame Dan Gilbert.

Or, instead of blame, I show sympathy to Clevelanders for the confederacy of dunces who own their sports franchises. For, among that trio of wealthy losers, Gilbert might be the best of the lot, which tells me all I need to know about the sports scene in this Rust Belt city.

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(Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Written by Justice B. Hill


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