Like his first year in Cleveland, LeBron James’ second NBA season ended without a trip to the playoffs. The miss was inexcusable to Cavaliers rookie owner Dan Gilbert, who set out an immediate coaching search so it wouldn’t happen again.
Gilbert plucked a highly regarded assistant off Indiana’s staff, a likable guy who vowed to instill a defence-first identity in Cleveland. The hiring wasn’t well received.
“Who the heck is Mike Brown?” Cavs general manager Danny Ferry recalled as the overriding sentiment back then. Four years later, here’s an updated answer: coach of the year. Brown, who has taken Cleveland to the post-season in each of his four seasons, was honoured Monday as the league’s top coach after leading the Cavaliers to 66 wins, a Central Division title and the No. 1 overall playoff seed following the greatest regular season in club history.
With James and the other Cavaliers standing behind him and his coaching staff seated a few feet away, Brown humbly accepted the Red Auerbach trophy.