His firing is official. The Mike Brown era as Cavaliers
coach finds its way into the team's history today as just another coach who couldn't
bring this franchise to the "Promised Land."
No one should have been surprised Brown was fired.
Rumors about his shaky future swirled around NBA circles like sands in windstorm. The consensus
was that he would be fired sooner instead of later, because there was no reason
to dangle a good man's fortunes on a tightrope for long.
And Mike Brown is a good man. He was a lousy coach, too.
I once thought Brown was the right man to lead the
Cavaliers to glory. He had the support of the game's best player, and other men
seemed to buy into what Brown was peddling.
Yet what did Brown in was his inability to put the X's
and O's together. He was a coach who harped about defense, but it was his sieve-like
defense that led to the disastrous ending to the 2009-10 season. Endings like
this one have become familiar in Cleveland. Promises, promises, promises ... but
no good ever seems to come from all of those promises, regardless of how
hopeful they appear at first glance.
And plenty of hope was attached to these promises. General manager Danny Ferry had given Brown the expensive pieces that should have taken the team deeper into the postseason.
He had Shaquille O'Neal, Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Leon Powe to weave into his player rotation. But Brown seemed confused about how to use this embarrassment of riches wisely, and when he couldn't make adjustments on the fly against the Celtics, he had proved what many of his critics had long thought: He was in waters too deep for him to swim in.
To be fair, the Mike Brown Watch had started before the season began. It was counting down toward his firing each step of the way, and the only thing that would have stopped it from ticking was an NBA title.
The title did not come, so Brown is gone, dispatched to the unemployment line like Mike Woodson, Vinny Del Negro and so many other NBA coaches who didn't bring the kind of success a finicky fan-base demands. It doesn't do a coach any good to come close to winning; he has to win it all or risk seeing his job put someone else's hands.
Brown's job now will go to someone else. Who that coach is, not even Ferry can be certain. He'll be trying to convince a coach to come here without knowing if the most talented player in basketball will be back, and even if LeBron James is back, is any coach aside from Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley or Jerry Sloan secure enough in himself to risk bumping heads with a mercurial star who has his own agenda?
Brown wasn't. On matters basketball, he too often deferred to James, perhaps feeling by allowing James to run the show, he would get most of the blame if things soured.
Blame for the Celtics loss did stick to James like Velcro, though I suspect most of it is people's angst over his unsettled future here. They want so much for James to want them, to stick around and to bring a title to town. All the rumors about his signing in New York or Chicago or Miami or ... have led for a lot of petty criticism and a mountain of frustration.
Ultimately, Cavs fans have to realize that not showing James the adulation that he courts will do nothing but drive him from their arms. They don't want to sever ties with the "Chosen One" - never. For he's as irreplaceable as the Mona Lisa.
Mike Brown, however, is bad street art, and Ferry had no way of making it look like anything Leonardo da Vinci put a brush. He didn't try.
Now, with questions about LeBron hanging like a guillotine over his head, Ferry has a new worry: How to sell a job to high-profile coach who has no inkling of what talent he'll have to coach?