The Fire Mike Brown Debate – In Defense of Mike Brown

Read the debate intro and Bleacher Fan’s opinion.



We’ve all had a bad day at work before, right? Somebody says something snarky in a meeting, or grates on nerves, or steals credit for a project. Instead of just letting it go, what do you do? You vent. You might vent to a co-worker in a back room or call a friend in a hallway. When you vent you don’t think about being politically correct, or taking everyone’s feelings into consideration. You just want to vent… you want to get those negative feelings out of you. Who’s to say having a front office job for a major NBA franchise doesn’t have the same situations taking place? My guess is that’s all that happened – in contrast to the “reports” that surfaced Thursday stating the Cleveland Cavaliers were considering firing reigning Coach of the Year, and owner of more pair of fashionable glasses than any other grown man, Mike Brown. The sports media is, once again, making a big deal out of nothing. Plus, Mike Brown does not deserve to get fired.

How does a guy get a prestigious award like NBA Coach of the Year? Coaching a team that went 66-16 in the regular season, and 39-2 at home, is a good start. Brown has been credited far and wide for inspiring his star LeBron James to put in the same effort on the defensive end of the floor as he always has on the offensive end. Mike Brown has made LeBron James a better defender and a more complete basketball player. In fact, James has grown so much as a player in the 2008-2009 regular season that he earned his first NBA MVP award this year. Mike Brown is good for LeBron James.

Mike Brown has also improved as a coach each year he’s been in the NBA, despite the fact that he has really only had one consistent contributor on the roster since he started coaching – LeBron James. Brown, like James, has suffered from a lack of talent and depth on the roster. It’s hard to install elaborate motion offense if the other players on the team cannot hit an open shot. Which leads me to my next point…

The Cavaliers do not have abundant talent on their roster, Bleacher Fan. How can Mike Brown be asked to create a championship team with only one championship player? The Cavs have no dominant big player (a must for any championship-quality team in this era of the NBA). They also lack depth in the backcourt. For Bleacher Fan to claim the Cavaliers had superior talent to the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals is completely false. The Magic have 4-5 players who can take a game winning shot – the definition of a true team. The Cavs have one, which they proved.

Those realities make it unfair to place all of the blame for the Cavaliers unlikely demise at Brown’s feet. Name any championship coach in NBA history – Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley, Greg Popovich – and it’s easy to see they all had more than one championship caliber player on the roster who performed well on a consistent basis. It’s unfair to expect championship quality teams from Brown, but not give him the tools to live up to those expectations. The mismatches Bleacher Fan talks about were not manufactured by a coach. Stan Van Gundy didn’t make Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu grow to 6’10.” He didn’t sign them to contracts, either. Their General Manager Otis Smith did. Mike Brown is in a difficult situation because the lack of talent, height, and depth on the Cavaliers roster.

Brown’s job as a head coach is to formulate a philosophy that will win championships. He chose defense – a proven path to the Larry O’Brien trophy. The players even bought into that philosophy and played hard for him – another proof point that Brown is an effective coach.

Not only should the Cavs not fire Mike Brown, they can’t act unilaterally. It’s also important to note that LeBron is in a position in Cleveland where all decisions regarding coaches and personnel must be approved by him. You can’t fire the coach for the best basketball player on the planet and not consult him… unless you want zero chance of resigning him when his contract expires in 2010.

The key to helping Mike Brown fully realize his potential as a coach is getting him more good players that perform consistently and fit his philosophy. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is not an athletic, tough center. Neither is Anderson Varejao. Or Joe Smith. Or JJ Hickson. Mike Brown’s success is in part tied to Danny Ferry’s ability to surround the franchise star with more talented players. Even good coaches can’t make something out nothing.

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14 Responses to The Fire Mike Brown Debate – In Defense of Mike Brown

  1. Mike says:

    I don’t think Mike Brown is the coach that will get Cleveland a World Championship!

  2. Bleacher Fan says:

    You’ve got no argument from me, Mike!

  3. Old School says:

    I don’t think the Cavs can win a championship WITHOUT Mike Brown!!! Because without MB they will probably be WITHOUT 23!!!

    • Bleacher Fan says:

      I have to ask, Old School…

      Do you REALLY believe that LeBron is so loyal to Brown that he would leave the Cavs if they fired him?

      Do you think LeBron would follow Brown to his new destination?

      I think that LeBron would leave the Cavs regardless of who is coaching, if he doesn’t believe he can win a championship in Cleveland. So far, when MB has gone up against the “better” coaches in the league, he has proven that he has not yet reached the mountain top. Will he be there someday? Probably. But he’s DEFINITELY not there yet, and Cleveland can’t afford to hang on and wait for Brown to take that next step.

    • Sports Geek says:

      A comment that rhymed. Nicely done, Old School!

      I do have to disagree a bit, however. I feel like that Mike Brown doesn’t deserve to get fired, but I’m not ready to make a leap and say the Cavs won’t win a championship unless they have Brown as the head coach. He’s a capable coach, certainly one capably of winning a championship. But, other coaches could take the Cavs to the finals, too.

  4. Walter says:

    Before Mike Brown—NO trips to the NBA Finals…With Mike Brown over the past three seasons—2007 Eastern Conference Champions, 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinalist who pushed Boston to a tough Game 7 victory, and 2009 Eastern Conference Finalists….

    I am a Laker fan and honestly, the thought of firing this excellent young coach is ridiculous! The reason Cleveland lost to Orlando is not due to Coach Brown, nor LeBron—Orlando has young, athletic versatile “bigs” that Cleveland’s ancient and/or slow “bigs”(Big “Z”, “Big Ben”, and Andy V.–I would keep Joe Smith to come off of the bench)could not guard…To ask those old Cavalier bigs to guard Howard, Turkoglu, and Lewis is simply not fair….Also, the Cavalier bigs had major issues guarding Gasol and Odom as well as those guys, plus Bynum would cause the same issues…

    Hopefully, Danny Ferry can get a big or two to add to the talented young core of LeBron, Mo Williams, and Delonte West…(Hedo Turkoglu, Rasheed Wallace, and Lamar Odom are ALL FAs this summer and would be upgrades in terms of both basketball and athletic skill over Big Z, Big Ben and Andy V.)

    If you fire him, just understand that he will have another coaching gig in 5 minutes and also, you will say goodbye to LeBron, as with this being the summer before his contract season, I would almost guarantee that he would either force a trade this summer or during the season before the trade deadline, or simply play this year out and walk which would be even worse as Cleveland would then lose him and not get anything in return…

    • Bleacher Fan says:

      You make some good points, Walter. I can’t argue that Z, Wallace, and Varejao looked slow and sloppy compared to guys like Lewis and Turkoglu.

      The Cavaliers have had the success of the past 3 years because of LeBron James, though, not Mike Brown’s coaching

      Also, being Eastern Conference Semi-Finalists is like saying you were 5th runner-up in a race… who cares?!

      • Sports Geek says:

        There’s no denying that Mike Brown has made LeBron better, especially as a defender. You can’t argue LeBron achieved all of his success on his own. Therefore, if Brown positively influenced LeBron and made him better, then it’s impossible to deny that Brown has been an asset to the Cavs.

    • Sports Geek says:

      Walter, I like every aspect of your comment. Well written and thought-out.

      The prospect of Hurkoglu on a team with LeBron James is compelling. A player like that with some defensively strong bigs put Cleveland over the top.

      We all remember the Bulls championships. Do we all remember Luc Longley, Bill Cartwright, Bill Wennington, Cliff Levingston, etc.? These aren’t marquee players. But, they were big, tough on defense down low, and not a drawback on the offensive end. These are the types of players the Cavs need to make the leap. The question is, does Danny Ferry have the capacity or the resources to make that happen…

  5. Loyal Homer says:

    Is Shaq the type of player you guys are calling for?

  6. Old School says:

    Until proven otherwise I will believe in Lebron’s loyality.I think he is loyal to this area,the fans,his team,and his coach!NO decision on any action by the Cavs will be made without his input.I can not see him giving the ok to fire MB.If they can him without consulting Lebron there would be problems!

  7. Great post! I’ll subscribe right now wth my feedreader software!

  8. They were not kidding when they said Miami is not a sports town. You and Reno are both wrong about your own players

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