Loyalty Lands Brown In Greener Pastures

By Mike Wise
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

'So, just to make sure this is right: You landscaped the assistant GM's yard in Denver as part of your first job in the league?"

"Yep," Mike Brown said.

"Meaning, you mowed someone's lawn?"

"That was part of the job," Brown said. "I also picked the coaches' cars up. Got 'em washed. Drove around Colorado in my old maroon Nissan flat-bed pickup, holding basketball camps for extra money. Anything, really."

"And you never made more than $23,000 your first four years?"

"Uh-huh," Brown said, nodding.

And now you have a four-year, $8 million-plus gig as LeBron James's coach? You're entrusted with grooming the league's next great young star?"

"Yeah."

"Crazy, huh?" said Brown, 36, the first-year coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the second-youngest coach in the NBA. "And you know what? I wouldn't change anything I did to get here. I would go through all those experiences again."

Brown was fairly anonymous to the casual fan before Cleveland's series with the Wizards. And then he stood before the microphones on Sunday night and said what he had to say, what every NBA playoff coach now must say: My guy wasn't getting the calls.

"I don't know how LeBron James can be on the floor for 45 minutes and pick up four offensive fouls," the young Cavs coach said after Cleveland's loss.

In sports, this is known as having your best player's back, fighting his political battles, fully supporting him. If we're being honest, it comes with the hope that the player will reciprocate someday in a way that might enable the coach to keep his job.


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