ESPN’s Chris Broussard on Cavs Coach Mike Brown

Read Broussard’s piece on the leader of the Cavaliers:

“It happened at barbershops, on radio interviews, at playgrounds and in church. It even happened at the home of my parents, proud season-ticket holders since the day after the Cavaliers won the 2003 draft lottery.

Everywhere I went — in Cleveland and sometimes elsewhere — I seemed to find myself defending Mike Brown.

Folks who had never played one minute of organized basketball, who couldn’t diagram a pick-and-roll on the chalkboard, who didn’t know a jump stop from a jumpsuit, were killing the Cleveland coach.


2009 NBA Coach of the Year - Mike Brown, Cleveland Cavaliers

I had no vested interest in standing up for Brown, but I did so every time. Because to me, the criticism was bizarre.

After covering the NBA since 1995 and witnessing various coaching styles, philosophies and demeanors — from hotheaded control freaks to laid-back delegators — I had come to this conclusion about the men who roam the sideline:

A good coach consistently gets his team at least as far as, and sometimes further than, it should go. Period.

And for all the ugly offensive sets the Cavaliers ran during Brown’s first three years as coach, he always, without question and without fail, pushed his team further than it should have gone since his arrival in 2005.”

Click the link above for the rest of the article.


  1. never did understand the hate of Mike Brown — even as the Cavs went to the Finals. Part of it is that he looks somewhat dopey I think…

  2. I don’t think he looks dopey. I think it was about the offense. The Cavaliers have looked horrible on the offensive end for years – but their capacity to hang tight and put LeBron in position to win big games can’t be argued. It is ironic that the team caught the most heat a few years back when LeBron was passing up late shots in order to pass to open teammates. There is nothing wrong with that approach as long as you have Mo Williams and Delonte West — guys who can actually make the shot.

    When that kick out is going to Eric Snow or Wally Szercibiak, you’re in trouble. Iverson and Garnett know all about passing out to those two. The media may not have contributed to the notion of Brown as cerebral either — he’s not a sound bite guy. He’s not demonstrative and over the top — usually. He has had his moments to be sure, but by and large, he’s a quieter type of guy.

  3. MODI, I think you’re right about him looking dopey. For me, it’s that he looks like he’s riding LeBron’s jock. You can make a case that any coach rides his star player’s jock to get recognition, a better contract, etc. But, ever notice how he reacts when LeBron takes a hard hit as opposed to any other player? You’d think LeBron was the man’s son! Phil Jackson doesn’t show as much animation for when Kobe gets nailed. That just takes away from Brown’s coaching.

    I would also argue, that even though Brown has been called a teacher, and he’s done a good job with the defense, that he could have done a much better job overall. I still don’t think that he uses LeBron correctly. But, I also don’t think that he thinks that they can win unless LeBron has the ball in his hands 60% of the time on offense. LeBron is just starting to show a post up game, which with that body, he should have developed that before now.

    But, I’d also argue that Danny Ferry is a reason that Brown doesn’t get more credit. He’s put together a team around James, that ensures that James will be the focus. He keeps missing on draft picks (1 pick in 2004, used on Luke Jackson, now gone; 0 picks in ’05; in ’06, Shannon Brown, traded mostly because of injuries, Daniel Gibson, great for one playoff run, Ejike Ugboaja, never played an NBA game; none in ’07; J.J. Hickson, Darnell Jackson, and Sasha Kuhn, who plays in Russia being drafted in ’08). Looking at Ferry’s habits since LeBron got to Cleveland, he seems to trade more picks away trying to acquire talent, rather than developing it. On the bright side, he does seem to occasionally get it right, as seen with Delonte West and Mo Williams.

  4. kos:

    Those are all solid points. I don’t know that I would take the ball out of LeBron’s hands, though. He’s clearly the best passer on the team. He creates his greatest mismatches by being able to start out up top. If he’s guarded by a big up top, he has a quickness advantage — and usually even a strength advantage. Reinforcements won’t arrive until after he’s elevated and by then its too late. If a smaller player comes out, he can pass over them; run a give and go; or simply power down the lane.

    Mo Williams is not a true point guard. Neither is Delonte. I would keep the ball in LeBron’s hands until they have a guy who’s handle is so tight that he looks like a 3:1 (assist:turnover) guy and a 2:1 (steal:turnover) guy. They don’t have that. Let them continue to make those uncontested spot up J’s. Mo’s having a career year. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.

  5. I would also keep the ball in Lebron’s hands. Brown is a good coach because he preaches defense as all great coaches do. Offense can always come later with better players. That is why I liked Jeff Van Gundy. His offensive sets were pretty limited, but he was tight defensively.

    I also thought that far too much was made of Lebron passing up shots. If Donyell Marshall nails that three in the playoffs everybody would have been praising Lebron.

    The media has most definitely contributed to Brown as less cerebral, or the guy who just lucked up on Lebron. Having stated that, I still think Brown looks kinda dopey. Maybe not Stan Van Gundy dopey, but not far off.

  6. I never go with the lucked up theory. Phil Jackson “lucked up” and got Michael Jordan and Pat Riley “lucked up” and got Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabar in the same way that Brown “lucked up” when Paul Silas got fired. And about Brown looking dopey. No one is going to beat Stan Van Gundy on that.

    I never thought that too much was made of LeBron passing up shots. True, if Marhsall makes the shot, LeBron is a hero. But, LeBron has always wanted to be the man, and one of the consequences of that, is you’re going to get criticism, fair or not.

    I think LeBron should have the ball in certain situations. Not as much as he has. My point about the bad drafting was that Danny Ferry should have been able to find a halfway capable pass first point guard to pair with LeBron to make sure that he’s not running the offense a majority of the time when he’s out there. LeBron is a good passer, but if he didn’t have to run the offense, he could probably be a better player in the long run. (You think having Derek Fisher back to run the offense instead of Smush Parker hasn’t helped Kobe?) The Lakers beat the Cavs twice this year, partially by taking the ball out of his hands. His teammates were lost without him running the offense. That shouldn’t have happened.

  7. kos….

    You’ve got me going on this one. I’m sporting my thinking cap now.

    I didn’t see those games this season vs. LA. I know that LeBron didn’t shoot well. Dwyane Wade had the same issue. Here’s the rub for me. I’m sure that their shooting troubles were a function of them having to handle the ball and run the offense or something else. When the Lakers play Cleveland or Miami, they have the luxury of being able to focus on a single player. They can focus on taking the ball out of his hands OR they can ask Kobe to focus exclusively on defense against that player for a game. Either way, they are likely to win because the Lakers have MORE, BETTER scorers at other positions than Cleveland or Miami.

    So, the real issue for Cleveland is…Who is LeBron passing to and under what circumstances? With a true point, teams could double LB on the catch or alternate their approach. They could come early or late or not at all. They could double to force him to the middle or to the baseline or they could alternate. They could double merely to contain and force the pass. There are a lot of options — but at the end of the day, LB still needs reliable scorers who are capable of beating taller Laker defenders off the dribble and off jumpers. Cleveland, to my mind, doesn’t have that type of offensive personnel. So, they’d have to have not just a “true point,” but an elite point guard. Any point who can’t get dribble penetration AND elevate and finish in traffic won’t demonstrably change things for them until they have better offensive players.

    I think they might be better off going for a reliable shooter with size. Big Z is arguably their best shooter with size, but he lacks the ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the defense. Mo Williams is a midget.

    There are many “types” — and I’m not thinking of a specific person, but the Rashard Lewis, Michael Redd type shooter would force teams like the Lakers to pay dearly for that approach. Doubling LeBron in order to get the ball out of his hands can only work if your defense can rotate quick enough to challenge shots by tall players who lack handle (Big Z) or short players who prefer to jack treys. With a capable shooter that’s about 6’7″ or taller, that approach rarely works.

    I’m not sure, if I’m Cleveland, whether I want a pure point guard or a sharp-shooting forward. I think a Rashard Lewis-type player would add much more to their team than a pure point guard. Again, I hesitate to use his name…heck James Posey works in this scenario as well.

    With all that…I totally agree that Fisher has made a world of difference for Kobe – but he was a non-factor in the playoffs when the Celtics expended so much effort to get the ball out of Kobe’s hands. Fisher had a great deal of trouble getting his shot off in the Finals – as did many of the Lakers. Cleveland needs a kick-out guy who can catch and shoot OVER the defense. Wally was supposed to be that guy – instead, he’s just taking up space. Thoughts?

  8. I think that if Cleveland had landed Michael redd a couple of years back instead of Larry Hughes, ‘Bron might have a championship already. The best two-guard to play with Lebron is a sharp-shooter that leaves Bron more space.

  9. Cleveland should trade for Adam Morrison and J.J. Reddick next year! lol

    In both games against Cleveland, I think Bynum was injured. I’m not sure about the first one, but the second one in Cleveland, I’m positive. Kobe and LeBron didn’t guard each other for most of either game because both coaches worried about their stars getting fouls on the other star player. Only at key times. Ariza was the primary defender on LeBron, and his length did bother him. Also, the Lakers pressured LeBron to start the offense earlier than he wanted. That got Cleveland out of their rhythm for most of the game. I think the Lakers just having a taller team also contributed to the rest of the Cavs not shooting well. Also, in the second game, Lamar Odom was a BEAST! Cleveland had no one that could stop him from grabbing rebounds.

    The Lakers haven’t been playing as well as it appears to most. They have let way too many teams come back on them from big leads. This has been true since about the beginning of March. (This stretch included the game in Cleveland.) I think it has to do with Phil Jackson having his rotation so absolute, instead of being fluid, where Lamar Odom is usually playing with 4 other people from the bench at the beginning of the second and fourth quarters.

    The personnel issue goes back to Danny Ferry not drafting well, and trading picks away for players that just don’t fit the system. He just hasn’t done a very good job overall of it, yet he gets a lot of undeserved credit in my opinion. If anything, that should make folks appreciate Mike Brown even more.

    Stephon Marbury would have fit the bill as a point guard that could shoot, penetrate, and kick out. The old Steph. I don’t know who that guy is masquerading as Starbury in Boston. The Bobcats have been looking to trade one of their point guards. Earlier this year, they were trying to unload Raymond Felton. It’s looking like they want to keep DJ Augustin. Sean Singletary is on their roster, but he hasn’t been given any burn in the NBA, so I’d stay away from him. (Also, they’re all in that 5’11”-6’1″ range where their shots would get swatted by taller guards.) But watch out, I hear that old George Shinn is back in a cheap phase (which is why he tried to trade away Tyson Chandler), and may gut the Hornets. Chris Paul may be available for the right price.

    For a shooter, betcha Danny Ferry wishes he wouldn’t have traded Jason Kapono away all those years ago! He couldn’t play defense, but he’d keep other teams honest. I don’t know of any other tall shooting guards or small forwards that may be available soon, barring someone requesting a trade.

  10. felton is officially a bust and hasn’t been able to improve his shooting at all in four years.

    agree on Kapono. He was very effective with the Heat where Shaq and DWade drew double teams, but in Toronto he is worthless. he would be effective for the Cavs.

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