While LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fight to keep the NBA season going, its former head coach and Golden State’s top assistant is reveling in it all.
At any point during Mike Brown’s two-time stint in Cleveland, you might see the former head coach riding his beloved Harley Davidson along Lake Erie. The scenic drive was his oasis. A chance to clear his mind from the day-to-day stress the NBA life burdens many head coaches. Three years removed from being fired in Cleveland, Brown is back with the visiting team on the cusp of being a champion in the city he calls home.
Brown might be the only player/coach ever to receive paychecks from both teams in the NBA Finals. He is still under contract with the Cavs until 2020. A lot has changed since he was coaching a 21-year-old Kyrie Irving and a LeBron James-less Cavalier squad. The one thing that hasn’t is his love for the game of basketball and Harleys.
When Brown unexpectedly took on the head coaching role from Steve Kerr in this year’s postseason, it would be his Harley that would announce Brown’s presence to the practice facility.
“He loves those Harleys,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “That just means he has them in every city he goes to. That’s an addiction.”
His addiction to Harleys may only be rivaled by his drive to change the narrative surrounding him as a coach. No other head man in the NBA can say they coached both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. In addition, no other coach can say they’ve been fired as the lead man for those respective teams. Getting a ring in Cleveland after being dismissed is not lost on the Warriors’ assistant coach.
“Circle of life,” Brown said last week. “Like the ‘Lion King,’ everything comes back around, I guess.”
“Hakuna Matata” might be a more apt quote for Brown and the Lion King. With Kerr’s departure the vaunted Warriors offense did not lose a step. They continued to play loose and dominant ball on both end’s of the court. It’s obvious that “The Dubs” took on the personality of their interim leader, even with Kerr now back at the helm. Throughout the postseason, Brown has been very loose. He has spent postseason interviews shouting out Bay Area rappers, Too Short and E-40. He also used that time to reflect on his first stint as the Cavs coach. That 2007 Finals team swept by San Antonio.
It’s rare that coaches get another crack at it. It’s even more uncommon for a former fired head coach to get another opportunity for a title against the team that let him go. For all intents and purposes, Golden State will raise another banner. More than likely, Kevin Durant will win MVP. Attention will then shift its focus to Durant, Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Sean Livingston’s impending free agency. No one will probably spend too much time talking about Brown’s tenure at the helm, leading the Warriors to an 11-0 record on their postseason run. When Adam Silver hoists the Larry O’Brien trophy to Kerr and the rest of the team, Brown will linger in the back. He’ll have plenty of time to celebrate, after a quick ride along the Erie.