So, who is Mike Brown, who appears to be on the verge of replacing Phil Jackson as the Lakers coach? Well, this Mike Brown shouldn’t be confused with the NFL owner of the same name. Or the NFL player. Or the MMA fighter. Or the astronomer. Or the motocross rider. Or the thousands of other Mike Browns. Mike Brown is a common name, and it remains to be seen whether he can stand out as the Lakers’ next coach.
What we know about this Mike Brown is that he coached the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers for five seasons until he was fired in 2010. He is the man credited with turning the Cavaliers’ franchise from laughingstock to league power. Many believe him to be the one who got James to focus on playing the sound defense you saw him play on Derrick Rose at the end of Game 4 of the Miami-Chicago playoff game Tuesday.
What’s more, Brown, 41, is the coach who led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007 and to the Eastern Conference finals in 2009 and ’10. He was named the coach of the year in 2009 after the Cavs went 66-16. They went 61-21 the next season, but he was fired after they were knocked off in the conference finals for the second straight season.
Brown was 272-138 with the Cavs for a .663 winning percentage, best in team history.
“I have truly enjoyed working with Mike Brown,” then-Cleveland general manager Danny Ferry said last year when Brown was fired. “Mike has played a huge role in turning around the Cavs organization. Over the past five years, Mike established a work ethic, defensive identity and culture of winning that was not here previously.”
By all accounts, Brown swayed Lakers executive Jim Buss during his interview with his focus on defense, something that was sadly lacking at times this past season, especially during the playoffs. Brown’s reputation as a defense-first coach lines up with what the Lakers want and need for the next few seasons. If he accepts their offer of three seasons plus a team option for a fourth at between $4 million and $4.5 million, then so much the better as far as the cost-conscious Buss family is concerned.