Cavs' coach Brown honored for leading team to No. 1 seed
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The Cleveland mentor was selected the NBA coach of the year.
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- 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 defense-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 postseason in each of his four seasons, was honored 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.
"If they did not want me to coach them, I wouldn't be able to coach them," he said. "I look at this as a partnership. Yes, my name is on this, but this is the ultimate team award from a coaching standpoint."
James, the likely league MVP, feels Brown has been overlooked mostly because he has a superstar at his disposal.
"That was the main reason," James said. "But that doesn't take away from the fact that we still have to go out there and play for him and abide by his system. There are a lot of teams with great talent, but that doesn't automatically qualify you as a good coach or give you wins."
Expected to be a close vote, Brown won in a landslide. He received 55 first-place votes and earned 355 total points from a panel of 122 sports writers and broadcasters, who awarded five points for first, three points for second and one point for third.
Houston's Rick Adelman was second with 151 points.