The Miami Heat are currently 44-21 following Thursday's home win against the Lakers. If they hope to win as many regular season games as Mike Brown, LeBron James, and the Cleveland Cavaliers did a season ago (61) they would need to finish a perfect 17-0.
Chances are they won't do that. Hopefully the Cavaliers can build enough momentum over the next couple weeks, starting tomorrow at home against the Thunder, to hand the Heat at least one of those losses personally. But while we - okay maybe just me - may view LeBron's return to the Q part deux - see how I did that? - on March 29th as the 2011 Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Super Bowl, nobody else really does.
At least certainly the Miami Heat do not. They're trying to win their first of those seven titles they promised this summer. The legacy of those best friends forever and their leader Coach Erik Spoelstra will be ultimately judged not on this regular season, but whether they do that or not. Mike Brown ultimately lost his job in Cleveland because he didn't.
You can't help but think though, that his "coaching stock" has ultimately improved based on what we've seen transpire over the course of this season from down in the talent-laden South Beach area. Indiana for one is strongly considering bringing the coach with the most stylish glasses in NBA history back for another go at it.
From ESPN's Marc Stein Late Friday:
Ex-Cavs coach Mike Brown remains a strong favorite to be offered Indiana's coaching job next season should Larry Bird return as team president. It's likewise possible that Brown, currently working for ESPN, will receive other offers. But Indy's recent swoon, lowlighted by a 26-point loss in Minnesota on Wednesday night after a honeymoon period under interim coach Frank Vogel, has renewed the belief in coaching circles that the Pacers will be conducting a coaching search at season's end that starts with Brown.
Three reasons why Mike Brown's stock is rising without coaching a game this season:
The biggest criticism leveled at Mike Brown was for "the plays he called during end of game situations." I never bought into this. If you've ever spent any time playing or coaching basketball from junior high to high school on up, there is no way you could legitimately think a guy that coaches an NBA team actually calls plays like: LeBron, pound the ball into the deck for 15 seconds than launch up whatever you want. He didn't call those plays then, and as much as I've never really been all that impressed with Coach Spo, he's not calling those plays now either. The Cavs ran bad plays most times at the end of games because LeBron does whatever he wants during end of game situations. Maybe he panics during end of game situations and forgets what was called in the huddle, or maybe the reports surfacing now that he waves off plays are more accurate. Whatever the case, it's LeBron choking away game winning opportunities, not the coaching staff [s]. This much is clear at this point.
Mike Brown the manager of talent and egos was never credited in the way it should have been either. As much as fans may not want to admit this, the management of today's superstars - or even guys who think they're superstars (Larry Hughes) even though they are not - has in a lot of cases more to do with helping your team win than x's and o's do. You have to make deals in some cases, concessions, or trade-offs. Sure it seems weird but welcome to today's NBA. Mike Brown needed LeBron to play defense in order to ultimately win as much as they did. Maybe he didn't fight the fact that LeBron waved off all notions of an offensive structure "requested" in order to get him to do just that. It worked to a degree. Coach Spo on the other hand desperately needs LeBron to assume the role of a PG and play the position of a facilitator in support and deferment to Dwyane Wade for the Heat to win like they promised they would. He hasn't been able to trick LeBron into doing this thus far, and I doubt he will be able too.
That same management is critical off the court as well. Specifically, if your star player - or players - are crying, don't tell the media that. And if you do, don't then blame the media for allowing everyone to make fun of the guys you said were crying. Name one time Mike Brown put the image of LeBron James in harms way? Or more than that, name one time Mike Brown - with help from the Cavaliers organization obviously - allowed LeBron James to put his own image in harm's way? I mean, let's assume it was LeBron crying the other day which it most likely was. Think that was the first time he cried after a game? Probably not. Or to make that more general, are we to think he had his first immature moments this season (ie. everything he's ever tweeted)? Course not.
But this isn't a diatribe about LeBron or Coach Spo. It's simply a commentary on a ex-Cleveland Cavaliers Coach, and embraced memeber of the Cleveland community, that I think did a much better job all around than anybody ever gave him credit for. Until now maybe, because I have a feeling that he will be the most coveted coach in the NBA carousel this off-season.
As a result of both what he was able to do, as well as what others are doing without him.