Did you expect anything less from Mike Brown?
He came in with class five years ago, and he left with class two days ago. How can anybody not respect him for that?
In a statement Wednesday, Brown expressed appreciation for the opportunity owner Dan Gilbert and GM Danny Ferry gave him. He was, he said, proud to be part of the Northeast Ohio community, a place he and his family have made their home. Brown had become as visible as all the other pro coaches in the community combined.
Brown proved everything men like Eric Wedge, Romeo Crennel, Paul Silas and Eric Mangini have never been. Yet he had one thing in common with all four: He couldn't bring the community a championship.
No reason to revisit in depth Brown's tenure, which had its successes until his firing Monday. To do that is to dwell on the past, and a coach's yesterdays are as worthless as a bag of tin cans. Instead, it's best to just salute a good man who walked into the sunset with his head held high.
He left the job with class, the same way he coached. The franchise is far better for having him here, even if he wasn't able to see a title banner hang from The Q's rafters. What he left with was a world of experience -- experience that will prove invaluable in the next coaching opportunity that will come his way.
And other opportunities will come Brown's way. He displayed the kind of knowledge of NBA defenses that will benefit another franchise, and if he builds a stronger base in coaching offenses, he could be a coach to watch wherever he lands next. He probably knows that as well as anybody.
With question, he was a great addition to the Cavaliers, and they might be lesser for not having a man of Brown's character around as the franchise forges ahead.
"We partnered in creating a culture and a standard that I am, and will continue to be, very proud of," Brown said in his statement.
He called coaching the Cavaliers "an exceptional experience."
All things considered, the experience was exceptional, and not just for Brown. Yet it might have been an opportunity he wasn't quite prepared for. What the Cavaliers needed when he arrived was a leader and a teacher, and as the team matured, the organization needed someone who was less of a teacher and more of a leader.
Brown abdicated that leadership role in his latter years. He put the team's fortunes in one player's hands, and it was those domineering hands that shaped the team's direction when they should have left that duty to Brown.
Now, those hands might be gone, too. They might be following Brown's departure, though not because of a decision Ferry or Gilbert has to make. And if those hands do leave, they will send a message to Brown that he can take with him wherever he lands next: To coach and win, you must first lead. Putting leadership in the hands of a star is a recipe for discord and disappointment.
Not sure if discord ran through the Cavaliers down the stretch, but surely they were a team that, under Brown, continued to leave the sports landscape littered with disappointments.