Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 at 8:00 am  |  74 responses

Mike Brown Stood Up to LeBron James, Motivated Him

by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

One of the easiest (most often repeated) jokes to make, is that LeBron is not only the Cavs’ best player, he’s also really their coach. That’s how a lot of people view the pecking order in Cleveland — all you have to do is ask those with really good seats near the Cavs’ bench — with Mike Brown being something of a placeholder.

Last night in Detroit, things took a dramatic turn in the relationship, as Brown got up in ‘Bron’s grill, and challenged his superstar to player harder and better.

To the surprise of some (hint: yours truly), Mike was not immediately fired.

The Plain Dealer reports:

With the Cavaliers in trouble down four points to the lowly Detroit Pistons late in the third quarter, Brown stepped into a timeout huddle and verbally, mentally and without holding back challenged his Most Valuable Player.

The results were a James explosion and yet another victory, this one by a 113-101 score. It was the 10th win in 11 games by the Cavs (53-15) and it got them another banner for the rafters. The Cavs clinched at least a tie for the Central Division title, their second in a row and third in the 40-year history of the franchise.

“We responded [to Brown],” James said. “Having a lot of history with this team and knowing those coaches it becomes a personal but friendly rivalry. You’ve got to understand this is [former Cavs assistant coach and current Pistons head coach] John Kuester we were going against and Mike didn’t want to lose.”

All kidding aside, as Brian Windhorst points out, this was a rather crucial stepping stone in the James-Brown relationship. It’s important for the coach to establish control, even when dealing with one of the biggest stars in the universe.

It may still be the illusion of power and control for Mike Brown, mind you, but even that counts for something.

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  • drgstyle

    First – bit dangerous to make him angry, with free agency looming

  • J-City

    1st and Mike Brown is still a tool

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2010/03/paul-pierce-and-the-celtics-hearing-boos/ L


  • neaorin

    Mike Brown does not coordinate the offense, at least since the begging of last season. If there’s something wrong with the offense it’s the assistants (usually Mike Malone and Chris Jent) who sort it out with the players during timeouts. Mike Brown steps in when the defense or lack of effort are the problem. If you’ve watched him since he came to Cleveland, you’ll know that’s for the best.

  • dfrance21

    I have no problem with the way things are run in Cleveland. I think when the coach is in complete control then you can’t have continuity on the floor because the players have to look to the coach for everything. An NBA coach is like a manager at a regular job. My manager doesn’t know sh1t about the work we do, but he’s good at managing the employees, making sure we’re informed of stuff, making sure we work as a team. Then he has his supervisors or in the NBA, assistant coaches, that are experts at different aspects of the job. Thats what Mike Brown does.

  • http://Slamonline.com Mvp23100

    So with that said when bron gets that first ring it will be without a phil jack on the sidelines their the best team in the league so either browns a decent coach or lebrons that good which 1 is it

  • http://www.hoopsvibe.com/features/overdribbling chiqo

    a coach coaching? unimaginable.


    53-15 aint just because of one man…

  • T-Money

    I think the Brown/Bron thing is overblown. Coaches don’t step to their superstars anymore. What happened last time Jax stepped to Kobe? They shipped his a– out of town. What does he do nowadays when Kobe refuses to run the offense and jacks up 35 shots? He gazes into the crowd and keeps his mouth shut. This is a player’s league, you go against your superstar and you get shown the door. Watch what will happen with SVG if Dwight decides that he has enough.

  • peter

    MVP, the true test will be in the playoffs…you saw the lack of coaching when they couldn’t adjust to Orlando’s game last year…many mediocre coaches can get wins in the regular season but to win in the playoffs takes some coaching.

  • Michael Scorn

    Did Mike Brown still kiss LeBron after games when they beat Detroit?

  • http://slamonline.com mvp23100

    thats true thats when it matters but i think it had less to do with coaching and more to do with orl being better last year those mismatches on the wing rashard hedo delonte andy big ben they were that 1 team that just had the cavs number

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Eh, it’s not like Phil Jackson micromanages his offense.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    lol chiqo

  • riggs


  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/farmer-jones/ Ryan Jones

    Ok, I’ll bite.
    Aside from Mutoni’s Twitter “source” being a self-described “diva” fake musician whose tickets behind the bench are IN DETROIT…
    Generally speaking, the best coaches are the ones whose teams win the most. I assume we can agree on this?
    So, does Mike Brown’s team have the best record in the League right now? Is his overall record as a head coach pretty good? Can we then assume that his methods must be pretty effective? If those methods include letting a VERY vocal team captain and soon-to-be 2-time MVP run huddles on occasion, and the results continue to be what they are, I guess I don’t see the problem.
    I’m gonna go send Mutoni some Twitter sp@m now.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    It was opposite day in the league.

  • The Philosopher

    Mike Brown is a good coach. But King James is the mechanism that drives that team, which is one of the reasons why Brown doesn’t say much. He really doesn’t have to. LeBron is that great. He is the greatest player in the world.

  • roman

    Mike Brown is soft as a coach. He needs to take notes from PJ on how to coach elite players.

  • http://postingup.co.uk Nanny Stopper

    Brown’s a company guy. Company guy’s do what is right for the company. That company IS Lebron James.

  • LA Huey

    A) Brown was the 2009 COTY.
    B) Jerry Sloan’s a got a powerful hex on that “award”
    C) Brown isn’t a complete idiot.
    Thus, Brown figures he’s got nothing to lose. History says he won’t have the same job within two years of winning that award.

  • riggs

    “mike brown is a good coach” yeah….go ahead and change your name please.

  • Rob

    Mike Brown is LBJ’s biatch

  • hillbilly

    Last night in Detroit, things took a dramatic turn in the relationship, as Brown got up in ‘Bron’s grill, and challenged his superstar to player harder and better. LeBron channeled his inner David Spade, responding with, “And you are…?”.

  • peter

    Ryan, agreed on best coaches winning the most, also agree with letting your MVP do the talking…but…do you agree that some coaches are great at getting wins in the regular season (e.g. d’antoni), but not so great at adjusting their game plan for different match ups in the playoffs? Remember how the lakers completely switched from Kobe going one on 5 to a balanced team a few years back and almost upset the number 1 ranked Suns??? Of course takes buy in from your superstar, but also great strategy.

  • Shem

    The cavs offense is ridiculously bad. They have about 2 plays. A post up kick out and a LeBron iso drive and kick. Watch a cavs game, I see Mo coming down the court and he’s doing some movement with his hands like he’s calling a play.. then when he gets down there he gives it to LeBron and jogs baseling

  • http://slamonline.com CB 34

    the philosopher: Mike brown is not a good coach. He’s just not creative enough although his defensive philosophy is sound. He’s terrible and cost bron 1 ring already. You keep spewing crap out of you just like the one about steph being killed in china by criminal entities. You believe the sh!t you’re saying is what i find fascinating. Stop talking crazy because you do get very annoying.

  • ClydeSays

    “After five years on the job, coach Mike Brown decides it’s finally time to speak to LeBron about shooting contested 35 ft jumpers…”

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    As far as actual motivating your players/telling them what to do, at least Brown selectively picks his spots to get in 23′s face unlike SVG who does it all the damn time that no one even listens to him anymore. Watch a Magic huddle sometime with the camera above the players, it sounds like a c**kfight with no one paying attention.

  • memyselfand9

    *have fun* to the coach that will have to deal with kobe when phil steps down.

  • Joey E.

    Al Roker stood up to LeBron?! What’s going on here?


    Brown has developed into one of the league’s best rounded coaches. His top expertise remains in defense, but he’s learning offense quick. He leaves the X’s and O’s to his coordinators and concerns himself with rotations, minutes, and player relations. To date he has done a remarkable job with rotations – who would start Hickson. But it worked. He’s a bit soft on setting a rotation and cutting some people out. He’ll have to do this in the playoff but not now. If he can set a good rotation and keep the Boobies, J. Williams and Powes out until needed, then the Cavs will be successful.

  • neaorin

    LOL @ the Cavs having only two plays. They run plays for everyone in the rotation except Varejao and Hickson. Yes that includes Parker, Moon and Z (before the trade). The Cavs’ _crunch time_ playbook is much slimmer but then again you want the ball in your best player’s hands when it’s all on the line.

  • neaorin

    Also, I’d like to hear how Mike Brown cost LeBron a ring already. Just please, please in the name of all that’s holy don’t say 2009.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/farmer-jones/ Ryan Jones

    As someone who’s never coached an NBA team — a trait I assume I share with everyone commenting here — I don’t really KNOW, but I’ve long assumed that ego management is the most important trait for a successful NBA coach. Guys like Riley, Pop and Jax, each in their own way, are masters of that. Mike Brown seems to be pretty good at that so far.
    Beyond that, to me, it’s simple: Talent generally wins in the NBA. Were the Cavs overall more talented than any of the teams they’ve lost to in the playoffs the past few years?

  • peter

    But guys like Riley, Pop and Jax can also develop gameplans when they need to…remains to be seen whether Brown can

  • The Philosopher

    CB34:In life, when you’re annoyed with something, you cease in being exposed to that annoyance. So, for you to continue to read my comments… Either my comments don’t really annoy you, or you enjoy being annoyed. Now, Mike Brown is a good coach, according to his career record. Numbers don’t lie. Thanks for the comment, though.

  • The Philosopher

    And Brown DOES look like AL Roker.

  • http://slamonline.com CB 34

    ryan: The series against the spurs, the cavs were simply overmatched but last year the cavs were the better team. Orlando simply peaked at the right time and guys like mo who were not used to that setting, just couldn’t step up. It’s growing pains and that will help them this year but yes, the cavs were the better team last year. I don’t see how mike is a great coach when he’s one dimensional and that’s defense. As far as ego management, we don’t really know because we never read anything about it. His benching of Z when he could have broken the record in a meaningless game with the outcome decided is unforgivable. No creativity and he feels he doesn’t need to be with Bron around. He’s a far cry from a Pop,Jax or Riley.

  • http://slamonline.com CB 34

    the philosopher: Don’t worry, i don’t really pay that much attention to you.

  • The Philosopher

    CB34: You pay enough attention, though.

  • A.

    T-Money Posted: Mar.17 at 9:17 am
    I think the Brown/Bron thing is overblown. Coaches don’t step to their superstars anymore. What happened last time Jax stepped to Kobe? They shipped his a– out of town. (!!!)What does he do nowadays when Kobe refuses to run the offense and jacks up 35 shots? He gazes into the crowd and keeps his mouth shut (!!!).—
    It’s stuff like this that makes Phil Jackson the GOAT, the Zen Master and all of that good stuff. Mike Brown does basically the same thing, and he’s the worst coach ever? It’s amazing how people run with something once it’s said, even if it’s proven to be false time and time again. LeBron can’t shoot, the Cavs never win, Mike Brown is the worst coach EVER. I mean come on. When Phil Jackson gets off of his couch once every 3 years and curses out the players (he wouldn’t dare say anything to Kobe), I don’t see articles on SLAM, why should there be one when MB tells LeBron to step the f-ck up and end the game the way he knows he can? And who the f-ck is StephanieK?

  • The Philosopher

    CB34: Who’s the better coach, Eddie Jordan, or Mike Brown?

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    Act like a coach and your team will win. What a shocker this incident proved to be.

  • neaorin

    It’s debatable which team had the better overall talent but Orlando was just a horrible matchup for the Cavs. That was the main reason they lost, along with issues concerning Mo and a little bad luck as well (Cavs lost 2 of 3 games that went to the wire). And as far as ego management is concerned, no news is good news. If people were unhappy we’d probably hear about it. Funny you should call that record breaking business ‘unforgivable’ because apparently Z himself has long gotten over it – as expressed by his desire to return to the team even after getting traded.

  • The Philosopher

    CB34: You know the game better than what you’re expressing on SLAM.

  • http://slamonline.com CB 34

    @ neaorin: I don’t think brown did himself any favors by benching z that night. It didn’t sit well with Bron either and that’s never good. Yeah, everyone’s past it but there was no reason for him to do that to the longest tenured cav around. it is unforgivable if you think about it. Z has been a model employee his whole career. And Z is mature enough to put all silly feelings aside for a chip. He’s not dumb enough to throw away a ‘ship because of a stupid grudge.

  • LA Huey

    People need to come to their senses and stop blaming LBJ or Brown for getting bounced by Orlando last year. The main factors were mismatches (Delonte-Hedo, Varejao-Shard, Dwight-Z), Mo going cold, and Dwight catching fire from the free throw line.

  • http://www.alloutblitz..com Cordeazy

    Don’t make him angry. you won’t like it when he’s angry…And by him I mean Lebron of Course.

  • http://www.alloutblitz..com Cordeazy

    An alternative theory: Lebron, not wanting to blow his cover as the shadow coach, gave Brown a pep talk before the game telling him he had to step up his authority.

  • neaorin

    CB34: let it go, man. It isn’t even near unforgivable unless it was intentional, which it wasn’t. He went with a smaller lineup that proved effective and likely lost sight of the fact that Z was going to break the record. Call it a mistake and move on. Z got his record and standing O a few nights later at the Q. There was someone else here a couple of weeks ago who desperately wanted Z to sign with his team, so he was clinging to this record stuff like it was some kind of international incident.

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  • http://www.hoopsvibe.com/features/overdribbling chiqo

    i won’t go so far to call brown a bad coach, but running a 1-4 set with lebron at the top of the key every time down the floor when it’s not working consistently is a bad move. get him the ball in some different places, keep the defense off balance, make it easier for him. now if it’s true that brown doesn’t coach offense like an earlier post mentioned, then i guess it’s not on him. but the head coach should have some say in such matters.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    LeBron James got yelled at by Mike Brown. That dude in Coach Carter got Yelled at by Samuel L Jackson. Samuel L was in a Long Kiss Goodnight. If LeBron leaves and Cleveland doesn’t win the title, thats what this will seem like for Mike Browns career.

  • http://jdfkslld.com Jukai

    Actual conversation:
    Mike Brown: Lebron, how about you score a little?
    Lebron: Uh, okay.
    Mike Brown: Great. Championship, 1, 2, 3, in the middle guys!

  • T-Money

    Some misconceptions about the Cavs offense. 1- It’s very good. Actually one of the best in the NBA. 2- The 1-4 set is their most efficient set statiscally and that’s why it’s their money play in crunch. Especially with a high screen n roll (Andy) or pop (Twan). It’s not creative but it doesn’t need to be. Like how Denver just give the ball to Melo at the free throw line extended in crunch time and get out of the way. 3- The Cavs DO run plays. They’ve been doing scissor cuts with Mo and Bron around Andy on the block this year and it’s been very succesful. They call plays for Delonte on the block every game. They have backdoor action for Andy. They have curls for AP. Do you guys watch the games? 4- The offense maximizes the attributes of its best player: the Cavs CONSISTENTLY get open looks from deep and that’s why they are the best or second best 3-point shooting team in the league. 5- They’re 8th in points (102), 3rd in FG, 2nd in 3FG and have the best differial in the league. More more do you guys want?

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    We want championships. ANd just because the 1-4 set is their most efficient offense in the regular season does not mean jack sh*t in the playoffs. get real – we saw what the 1-4 set does in crunch during the playoffs for the last 4 years. Yes Brown relinquished control of the offensive playbook last season subsequently the cavs have become on of the most efficient teams in the league. but the goal is to improve your offense to maximize performance in the playoffs. W/ LeBron on any team they should be near the top in every % category, strictly because of how much attention from help defenders he demands

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/farmer-jones/ Ryan Jones

    Enough with the logical analysis, T-Money. If you’re not running the triangle, you don’t have an offense. Everybody knows that.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/farmer-jones/ Ryan Jones

    You know who else ran the same damn set all the time in the playoffs last year, nbk? The Magic — especially in the conference finals. I’m guessing you remember how that ended.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    You know who has/had a completely different team the cleveland Ryan? Orlando. I didn’t say the 1-4 set doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work for Cleveland. Offensive sets are supposed to take advantage of your strengths and the opponents weaknesses. Against a team like Orlando who is long and has a rebound dominant big, you have to run an ACTIVE offense. Its common sense, Mike Brown is not wrong for implementing the 1-4 set. He is wrong for using it in situations that are not advantageous. (namely the playoffs against defensive minded, long, fundamental teams). – Which should be obvious if you take into account who they have lost to over the last 3 years. Orlando, Boston, San Antonio.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/farmer-jones/ Ryan Jones

    I did not know that. I don’t actually watch much basketball. I’m just going on what I read here.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    What’s worse than Ryan Jones’ sarcasm? You guessed it: Ryan Jones’ sarcasm.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    i believed him, what other explanation can their be for not understanding that the same offense can have a varying degree of success for two different teams. thats like the Lakers moving away from the Triangle completely because the Timberwolves suck at it

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Don’t feed the troll, guys.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Here’s my take on Cleveland. They’re not the most efficient offensive team, sure. But they’re out-hearting everyone every night, especially Varejao and West and yes, Bron. And truthfully, I feel their offense has gotten better and diversified as the season went on. Nonetheless, as long as they are out hustling teams and defending hard, they will win, or at least keep games real close. Boston won their title 2 years ago playing exactly like this. Offense – fickle as it is even on the best squads – doesn’t always have to be ticking when you’re defending like, well, lions.

  • T-Money

    Cleveland lost because their shooters got cold and they had no answer for Dwight inside, everybody knows that right? The offense was producing the same drives for Bron and the same open looks for Mo, Wally Z, Sasha, West, etc. Problem is: they didn’t any. / Saying that they’ve been losing 4 years straight because of the offense is dishonest. The Cavs got bounced by flat out better teams every year except maybe last year where the Z-Andy combo couldn’t match up at all with Dwight-Shard. Get real.

  • str8 from samoa

    off the topic but damn that corey brewer on robin lopez was gangsta hahaha

  • Sporting-Lisbon-Blazers

    all i have to say is: lost all the respect i had for mutoni…i check the links and WTF?! WHO THE FU(K IS STEFANIEK?! and why should we care what shes sayin?! fu(kin joke

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    Mike Brown is Al Roaker.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Yeah those Twitter links were horrible.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Co-sign T-Money 8:26.
    You know who had a GREAT offense? The Phoenix Suns. How many Finals appearances did they make?

  • Dillan

    Good Coaches with Good Players make for winning teams. Phil Jackson often sits down and lets Kobe manage the game. Mike Brown can’t be all bad.

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  • jay

    Mike Brown Stood Up to Lebron James, Motivated him & Then They Kissed. End of Story.