Sunday Dribbles: Same as the Cleveland Brown
NOV 11, 2012 12:40a ET
Cavs officials were so captivated with Brown’s character and intellect, they knew right away that he was their man. Owner Dan Gilbert was particularly impressed, hiring Brown even before selecting a general manager (eventually, that job went to Danny Ferry).
Two years later, Brown guided the LeBron James-led Cavs to their first appearance in the NBA Finals. Two years after that (2008-09), Brown was named NBA Coach of the Year.
But life wasn’t as great as it seemed.
The Cavs had a tendency to underachieve in the playoffs -- and insiders suggested he was nearly fired after the 2009 season, when the Cavs were bounced from the conference finals by Orlando. Yes, that was the same season in which Brown was named the league’s best coach.
A year later, the Cavs compiled 61 wins, only to suffer an embarrassing collapse in the second round vs. Boston. Brown was fired in June. James left for Miami in July.
After a year as a television analyst, Brown got another interview -- this time with the Los Angeles Lakers. Again, he nailed it. Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss nearly hired Brown on the spot.
Buss is the son of owner Jerry Buss, and Jim Buss liked the fact Brown was the Cavs’ all-time winningest coach, that Brown had experience handling a Kobe Bryant-like superstar in James.
But again, life wasn’t as great as it seemed. Brown was stalked by the same skepticism in LA that had haunted him in Cleveland.
Was he dependable enough when the idea was in-game adjustments? Did he possess the creativity to direct what should have been a fairly high-powered offense? Why did the Lakers (like Brown’s Cavs before them) always seem so flat, frustrating and floundering?
During the off-season, the Lakers made it clear they wanted to be “all in” for a championship this season. They traded for Steve Nash. They traded for Dwight Howard. They acquired veteran scorer Antawn Jamison and others to help fill out the bench.
They were the latest, and supposedly most loaded, of the so-called super teams.
But instead of all that talent coming together, the Lakers appeared dazed and confused under Brown -- his decision to implement principles of the Princeton offense resulting in too many Lakers playing to their weaknesses.
The league took notice.
“It’s strange watching Steve Nash play off the ball so much,” Brooklyn forward Kris Humphries wrote on his Twitter account.
And Humphries’ tweet was considerably more compassionate and understanding than the ones fired at Brown from the Lakers fan base.
By all accounts, Brown is a wonderful guy who is well-liked by his players. They might not totally respect his philosophy, but they seem to appreciate the fact he’s not a self-promoter and is doing what he feels is best for the team.
He may be a good coach, too.
But Brown’s issues with the Lakers were no different than they were with the Cavs. No different whatsoever. They just took place in a larger market and were scrutinized by a considerably more vocal crowd.
Both times, the circumstances surrounding Brown's hiring were a little peculiar (neither time did a GM make the call).
Both times, he enraged fans by looking overmatched and underprepared. Both times, he was put in charge for too many of the wrong reasons.
Brown will coach again, most likely in the NBA. Let’s just hope that next time, the people who do the hiring do a little research first. He may not have deserved the Lakers job, but he can’t be blamed for taking it.
A look at how the top five picks in the NBA draft have fared:
• Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick, missed several games with a concussion, but has looked darn good in the games he’s played. Davis is averaging 17.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and shooting 53 percent. New Orleans is a different, much better team with Davis in the lineup.
• Second overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is off to a so-so start with Charlotte. MKG is averaging 9.0 points and 6.3 rebounds. He did, however, score 25 in a win over Dallas on Saturday.
• Third overall pick Bradley Beal is averaging 12.0 points, but shooting just 36 percent from the field for Washington.
• Dion Waiters, selected fourth overall by the Cavs, is averaging 16.7 points. Other than Davis, Waiters is off the best start. TNT and NBA TV analyst Kenny Smith has repeatedly called Waiters “the second-best player in college basketball last season.” Smith may be on to something.
• Fifth overall pick Thomas Robinson has struggled mightily off Sacramento’s bench. He’s averaging just 4.4 points and 3.6 rebounds. He’s also already been suspended after throwing an elbow to the throat of Detroit’s Jonas Jerebko.
A number of free agents, expected to have signed by now, are still available and might be able to help a team, particularly when it comes to veteran direction off the bench.
Guards Derek Fisher, Michael Redd, Earl Boykins and, yes, Delonte West; swingmen Mickael Pietrus and Josh Howard; forwards Kenyon Martin and Ryan Gomes; and centers Ben Wallace and Eddy Curry.
• Don’t be shocked if New York coach Mike Woodson brings Amar’e Stoudemire off the bench, at least for a little while, once the All-Star power forward returns from knee surgery next month. The Knicks have looked great with Carmelo Anthony playing Stoudemire’s spot. “I don’t owe anybody minutes,” Woodson has said, although not in reference to Stoudemire. “I’m trying to win games.”
• The Knicks, by the way, set a team record by winning their first four games by double figures. They outscored opponents by an average of 17 points in that span.
• Back to the Lakers. As Bobcats beat writer Rick Bonnell wrote in the Charlotte Observer, “Who would have imagined that Vinny Del Negro was the NBA coach in Los Angeles with all the job security?”
• Memphis is off to a fast start out West, and small forward Rudy Gay said it’s no accident. In fact, with the same starting lineup that bounced highly favored San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs, and took the Clippers to a Game 7 last year, the Grizzlies have it all -- talent, familiarity and an underrated coach in Lionel Hollins. “Last year, who would’ve thought Oklahoma City would be in the Finals,” Gay asked the Commercial-Appeal. “Why not us?”
• Indiana’s backcourt can be confusing, as both shooting guard Paul George and point guard George Hill can surprise opponents with their often unappreciated games. Plus, they both have “George” in their names. “I mess that up twice a day,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel told the Indianapolis Star.
• Finally, anyone else notice how O.J. Mayo seems to have been reborn in Dallas? Mayo spent the majority of his first four seasons coming off the bench in Memphis. Now, he’s starting for the Mavericks, and has become the team’s leading scorer in the absence of the injured Dirk Nowitzki. Through six games, Mayo was averaging a career-high 21.8 points on a career-best 49 percent shooting.
Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO
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