Beyond communicating the x's and o's necessary to be successful, developing an identity of consistent toughness is also required to ultimately build a culture of winning in the NBA.
Following the Cleveland Cavaliers 92-74 preseason loss at the Canton Civic Arena on Tuesday night to the Charlotte Bobcats, Mike Brown spoke to that message of toughness specifically.
"I've been pushing these guys and I'm going to keep pushing these guys because they're mentally tougher and physically tougher than what they think they are," Brown said.
That was the line that stuck out to me the most during my ride back to Cleveland. It serves as an example of how Brown is working to redefine what his players believe they are capable of both as individuals and as a collective unit.
He then went on to add the following which was equally important.
"Right now, what we've experienced so far is nothing if we want to be a good or great basketball team this year," Brown said.
"We're going to have people hunting us, we're going to have people wanting to come at us on a night-in, night-out basis. No matter how we're feeling, whether we're feeling tired mentally or tired physically we gotta come ready to play every play and not take any shortcuts."
Despite the upgrade in talent you're still not good enough to beat the Bobcats if you come out and take plays off, basically. An important message that may not have had a chance to sink in as well if not for the little bit of adversity created by the first loss of the 2013 preseason.
Dion Waiters on Mike Brown: "I love the way he coaches me"
While discussing the subject of shortcuts and consistency, the only player Mike Brown mentioned by name was Dion Waiters. Waiters finished 2-for-7 with five points and four turnovers to go along with committing a few mental mistakes defensively on Tuesday.
Brown admitted that he is being tough on Waiters and said that it's important he understands how hard he must work on a consistent basis in order to maximize his potential. The second-year guard responded to Brown's comments by saying later that he appreciates the way his new coach is trying to get the best from him.
Waiters on Mike Brown: "He's tough on me but he's making me better. He calls me over, starts talking to me, I love the way he coaches me"— Brendan Bowers (@BowersCLE) October 16, 2013
"He's tough on me but he's making me better," Waiters said. "He calls me over, starts talking to me on the sidelines and I love the way he coaches me."
This mental approach and willingness from Waiters to learn, grow and be coached is the most encouraging example of his development during training camp thus far as far as I'm concerned. It also made me walk out of what was a great atmosphere in Canton convinced that Brown could very well be the best thing that happens to Dion's career.