The only coach to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals was fired by the team Monday, a move that was a repeat of owner Dan Gilbert’s actions four years ago. After that firing, Gilbert called it a mistake. This time, after just one season, Gilbert said it was just business.
“This is a very tough business,” Gilbert said in a statement. “It pains all of us here that we needed to make the difficult decision of releasing Mike Brown. Mike worked hard over this last season to move our team in the right direction. Although there was some progress from our finish over the few prior seasons, we believe we need to head in a different direction. We wish Mike and his family nothing but the best.”
LeBron James, who led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007 with Brown as coach before departing to Miami, said of Brown’s firing: “It’s just a tough business. I mean, that’s all it is. It’s a tough business and, you know, Mike Brown got the short end of a tough business.”
Brown, who had four years remaining on his $20-million contract, was fired last year by the Lakers five games into his second season. He could not be reached for comment.
Brown went 272-138 in his first stint with Cleveland. Led by James, the Cavs made the finals for the first time in 2007 and were title contenders throughout Brown’s tenure. However, they didn’t advance past the Eastern Conference semifinals four years ago, and Brown was let go.
Cleveland’s players didn’t care for Brown’s defense-first philosophy and there seemed to be a disconnect between the Cavs and the coaching staff.
Brown seemed resigned to his fate following the season finale, when he said he would support whatever decision Gilbert made.
“It’s his team,” Brown said.