INDEPENDENCE, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Mike Brown is getting something most don’t get – a second chance with the team he had the most success with.
Brown was introduced on Wednesday afternoon as the new coach of the Cavaliers, speaking to the media and a few fans in attendance at Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence.
The slogan for Brown is a simple one – “Commitment to the Journey.” It’s something that the coach wants to pass along to his players, and he wants them to eat, sleep and taste it on a daily basis moving forward.
As far as coming back to the Cavs, the coach says it was a no-brainer that Cleveland is where he wanted to be.
“It’s funny how life works out, if it happens, you feel like the luckiest guy on the planet, things work in a mysterious way, and I’m excited,” Brown said.
For GM Chris Grant, it’s a hire that he hopes will make amends for firing him back after the 2010 season.
The Cavs GM says bringing back Brown is a move that didn’t take much thought.
“It was pretty clear pretty quickly,” Grant said.
For Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, he’s had to sit back and watch the Cavs go downhill the past three seasons since the loss of superstar LeBron James.
He’s had to watch the Cavs win 64 games the past three years, losing a whopping 166. Now the owner is also ready to move on – quickly.
“Yeah it was a mistake (firing Brown), clearly it was a mistake, as you all know that summer we went through three years ago it was a unique time and there was a lot of uncertainty and we’re very happy we get to rectify the opportunity to bring Mike back here,” Gilbert said.
Brown is known as a ‘grinder’ and a coach that will work hard both on the court with players and in the film room. For Gilbert, it’s a match that the Cavs have to have at this point.
“He’s exactly what this franchise needs right now,” Gilbert said. “This guy eats, sleeps and breathes basketball.”
It was with the Cavs that Brown had the most success, leading the franchise to their only NBA Finals appearance in the 2007 season, only to lose in four straight to the San Antonio Spurs.
Brown was fired after the Cavs, following a 61-21 season, were bounced in the second round by the Boston Celtics in six games in 2010.
The final game of the series will also be remembered for the final game in a Cavs uniform to date for Akron native LeBron James, who left the team that summer to ink with the Miami Heat.
Now with Brown back, there’s immediate rumors that with James, being able to opt out of his deal in 2014, the hiring of Brown could mean a reunion between the coach and superstar.
As far as talking about James right now, it’s something that Gilbert would rather avoid.
“We talk about today, this year, and a lot of stuff in the media people talking about it, we can’t control that,” Gilbert said. “We’re focused on this year, and the future, so many things can happen in a year.”
Brown’s latest stint was the most high-profile of his career, just over a season coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.
In a strike shortened season he led the team to a 41-25 mark, first in the Pacific.
The Lakers were bounced in the second round of the playoffs that year, and after getting Dwight Howard in a deal that summer, the club fired Brown after a 1-4 start the following year.
For Brown, he feels the time with the Lakers away from the Cavs has made him better. Ready in his mind to take on the task at hand.
“I don’t think this is any different from any other business,” Brown said.
“You learn and grow everyday, you get better. Generally you have a process that you have in any other field, I have grown in a number of ways.”
Known for his defensive style that it seems the Cavs have sorely lacked since his firing, Brown comes back with a career head coaching record of 314-167 (.652).
The numbers are good for the 6th highest winning percentage in NBA history among coaches with at least 400 games coached.
“We had a great time when we were here, I look at this ownership group and their commitment, and how good a job that Chris Grant has done,” Brown said.
“You look at the team, from afar they look like a talented young group. The passion here is unbelievable. I feel fortunate and my family feels fortunate.”
He takes over a Cavs team that has a number of solid young players – Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristian Thompson and Tyler Zeller.
Now the question is, can he come back to the franchise that made him famous as a coach the first time around, and finally finish the job he was unable to do the first time around?
“I am excited, when I first came to Cleveland we had a fairly young team,” Brown said.
“Now we have a few veterans to mix in here and there, there’s some similarities and I am excited about rolling my sleeves up and getting at it with this young team.”
Only time will tell. First on the agenda, get the team to the postseason for the first time since losing James in the summer of 2010.
“We have a lot of work in front of us in order to get there, and I am excited about coming in day one and getting to work,” Brown said.