With Kerr still doubtful, Brown will run the Warriors anew
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 01, 2017 01:17 PM
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, right, talks with interim head coach Mike Brown during an NBA basketball practice, in Oakland, Calif. The Golden State Warriors face the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Oakland. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Heading into game one of the 2017 NBA Finals, the person who will be calling the shots from the Golden State Warriors bench is still up in the air.
Acting head coach Mike Brown said that Steve Kerr “does seem like he’s getting better,” but added that no final decision has been made yet.
That should be no problem though, given that Brown and the Warriors are currently undefeated in this postseason. In fact, it might give the number one overall seed an extra edge, given that Brown had two stints as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Just don’t expect Brown to admit it.
“I don’t think I have an edge,” he told media. “At this point in the year, they know everything about us, we know everything about them. Whether I was here or not, these guys would still have a good feel of what Cleveland’s going to do.”
Brown coached LeBron James and the Cavaliers from 2005 to 2010, with the team reaching the NBA Finals once, when they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Cleveland brought him back for the 2013-14 season to mentor the likes of Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, before they opted to go in another direction, prior to the return of James to The Land.
“My son goes to school back there [Cleveland]. I still have a house back there, I have fond memories back there and went back there a second time with a good buddy of mine, Chris Grant, and saw them put this plan into motion that is going on now. But the reality of it is I’m a part of the Warriors. I’m just extremely happy to be in the Finals. It wouldn’t matter who we are facing,” Brown said.
“Maybe I am made up differently, [but] I’m not looking at this as Cleveland fired me twice, this is the time to get back at them….No, I just want to win. I don’t care who it is, I just want to be a part of a winning program, and be the last team, quote-unquote standing.”
Kerr has been sidelined due to complications arising from his back surgery, but after undergoing treatment at Duke University, he’s been slowly scaling back up his role with the squad. And even if he’s not ready to be the main guy calling the shots again in game one, he's had plenty of input in what Brown and the Warriors will do.
“We’re on the phone,” Brown explained. “Even when we’re not together, we’re on the phone at least twice a day. Yes when he’s here during games, he’s in the locker room with us before the game talking strategy. And then he’ll address the team at halftime, even at the end of games. We just kind of play off each other.
“So I think we have a great rapport with one another. And hey, at the end of the day, this is his team. He’s the head coach, and I’m just doing my job.”
Cleveland’s current head coach, Ty Lue, even gave Brown props, saying, “I think with Mike Brown stepping in and doing what he’s done has been unbelievable. Hostile situation, a lot of pressure, having to win and to step in and go undefeated in the Playoffs is great.
“Hopefully whatever happens with Coach Kerr’s situation that this opens up the eyes to other people and other teams about Mike Brown and what a great job that he can do.“
Brown compiled a 272-138 record in his first run with the Cavaliers. In addition to their NBA Finals stint back in 2007, the Cavs made it to the Conference Finals once, plus three more Conference Semifinal trips. When he came back to Cleveland in the 2013-14 season, the team went 33-49, missing the Playoffs.
In between, he landed with the LA Lakers, posting a 41-25 record and going to the conference semifinals in 2011-12, before getting the ax early in 2012 after starting off 1-4.
Looking back, 10 years after James' first trip to the Finals, Brown can’t help but marvel at his former marquee player.
“He's tremendous. What he's always done, he's always made the right play. And back then he used to get hammered all the time because he would drive and three guys would collapse on him and he would make the right basketball play, and a lot of times we won big games for that….So he's a very dangerous player because most, quote-unquote, big-time players in that situation, you know, they're going to shoot the ball.
“But a guy like him, especially with the weapons that they have right now, and Kyrie and this guy and that guy, Kevin Love and down the line, it makes it very hard, because if you run too many guys at him, you're going to have a very good player with experience that's not afraid of the moment stepping in and being able to get a great look that's wide open and most likely is a lay-up for most of those guys in that situation. So it's a daunting task, but we're looking forward to the challenge.”