What’s worse than getting fired from a job? Try getting fired from that exact same job twice! Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to Mike Brown when Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert fired him as the team’s head coach for the second time in May 2014.
Gilbert first fired Brown as his head coach in 2010 after the Cavaliers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals
of the 2010 NBA playoffs. The loss made the Cavs the first team in NBA history to accomplish back-to-back 60+ win seasons and not advance to the NBA Finals – that fact ultimately led to his firing.
After some time had passed, Gilbert realized firing Brown might have been a huge mistake. The team was never as good once Brown left and he was a highly respected coach around the league. In 2009 Brown was even named Coach of the Year after leading Cleveland to a franchise-best 66-16 record.
Nonetheless, Brown would put his days in Cleveland behind him and eventually move on to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.
Los Angeles Lakers
When the Lakers called Brown to see if he was interested in becoming Phil Jackson’s successor, he couldn’t refuse. Following a legend like Jackson, however, would prove to be a very daunting task. Brown took over a team with a fan base that expected to be in the NBA Finals every single season.
Brown’s first season as the Lakers head coach wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t good
enough. The team would be eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
For some reason, Brown was on a short leash by Lakers ownership following his first season as the team’s head coach. When the Lakers lost four of their first five games to start the 2012-13 season, ownership had seen enough. They fired Brown on November 9, 2012.
Return to Cleveland
With Brown suddenly available, and the Cavaliers still struggling ever since he was fired in 2010, Gilbert picked up the phone and gave his former head coach a call. The two sides agreed to put their past behind them, let bygones be bygones, and give their partnership another chance.
Brown was officially rehired by the Cavs on April 24, 2013.
Although Gilbert had to swallow a lot of pride to hire Brown for a second time, that didn’t mean he would be afraid to fire him again. After just one season back in Cleveland, Gilbert would once again terminate Brown following a 33-49 record.
“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.”
Bad Luck or Bad Coach?
There is a reason why Brown continues to get opportunities to become a head coach in the NBA. For starters he is an incredibly nice man who people root for to succeed.
Beyond being a nice guy, he’s also a pretty good coach. He won an NBA championship as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003 and as a head coach he had success as well. In 2007 he led his team to the Eastern Conference championship and in 2009 he was named NBA Coach of the Year.
But unfortunately, Brown has never won an NBA championship as a head coach and this day and age that’s all that matter.
Although he may not be a great coach, he’s far from being a bad one. He has had his fair share of bad luck when it comes to being an NBA head coach, but not all of his problems have been due to bad luck. Brown is what he is: he’s a very good – but not great – head coach. If he had enough talent to work with he could certainly lead a team to an NBA Finals victory. But if he has mediocre talent to work with, any team he coaches will end up having a mediocre record.