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A Mike Brown-Out In Cleveland

BOSTON - MAY 13:  Head coach Mike Brown of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a call against one of his players in the first half against the Boston Celtics during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at TD Garden on May 13, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User Expressly Acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ben SteigerwaltCorrespondent IMay 24, 2010

In the surprise of the week, Mike Brown has been fired as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If you didn’t see that coming, I’ve got a great deal on some .com stocks for you.

It will be interesting to see how this story is handled from an editorial standpoint.  There is an inherent dislike when a successful coach is let go.

And let’s be clear: Brown was a very successful regular season coach. He had easily the most successful coaching run in Cleveland Cavaliers history. That’s kind of like being the best head coach in L.A. Clippers history, minus the racist owner.

The details about Brown's dismissal, if released, may also be intriguing. Obviously, the main reason to let go of Brown was the Cavaliers’ failure in the playoffs, though a 42-29 (.592) playoff record isn’t an atrocity.

But only one NBA Finals appearance and one Eastern Conference Finals appearance, in five years—with the best player in the league—is atrocious. 

Other reasons may have included the team’s lack of chemistry and playing Shaquille O’Neal significantly more than made sense.  (Sense meaning this was 2010 and not 2005.)

At least one conspiracy theory will indicate that LeBron James was instrumental in Brown’s dismissal. Though LeBron has historically had significant say in management decisions, I’m not so sure in this case. 

There is no concrete indication that James will be returning to the Cavs next season (just in case you hadn’t heard). As such, the franchise needs to keep that in mind. In a potentially LeBron-less future, the team will need to have effective leadership in place for the purposes of the draft and in order to generate success from a significantly less-talented roster.

That said, it is likely that James will be on the minds of Cavs’ management when deciding on a hire for next season. I just don’t know that he was on their minds in this instance.

At the end of the day, Brown had to go. The Cavs improved their roster yearly over the course of his five-year tenure. Yet the high water mark of their postseason success occurred in 2007 when the team reached the NBA Finals. It could certainly be argued that the Cavs’ roster was at no point during Brown's tenure a championship one. Still, the expectations were there.

That will be the story of Brown’s time in Cleveland. He failed to meet the expectations set out for him. In large part, these expectations could be attributed to the team’s regular season performance. Unfortunately for Brown, the win-loss record compiled over the course of a season gets inflated due to the inclusion of teams that aren’t playoff caliber. 

There are no cupcakes during the postseason and coaches who cannot make the necessary adjustments to compete with a higher quality of opponent, as Brown found out, quickly turn into pariahs. 

The ensuing coach search by the Cavs, and the interview tour by Brown, will make for interesting fodder for the news wire. The announcement of Brown’s dismissal, on the other hand, seems like nature taking its course.

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