Daniel Gilbert made a big mistake thinking that firing the Cavs' Mike Brown will keep LeBron James in town. All that did was turn his team into the Dallas Mavericks of the Eastern Conference.
By Gregory Moore
It’s tough to be fired from a job; especially in today’s economy.
What’s worse is being held accountable for something that wasn’t 100% your fault.
For Mike Brown, the now former head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, being let go by an organization that five years ago was not even considered an elite franchise is an insult that no head coach should have to endure.
In any sport.
But firing Brown wasn’t because he had a bad season.
Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert fired Brown because he wanted to keep his Golden Child aka LeBron James.
In my opinion this was dumbest thing that Gilbert could do as an owner and that he’s more worried about his ticket sales than a championship ring.
And his co-conspirator in this case is general manager Danny Ferry.
Now I’ve never considered Ferry to be anybody’s lap dog but not standing up for Brown and standing beside Gilbert as he tries to hold on to James makes him the number one lackey in Cleveland right now.
Here’s the thing: Brown’s firing isn’t going to persuade James one way or the other.
Ferry should understand what it takes to win a championship; hell he came from an organization that took a moment to get it right in San Antonio.
If he forgot that lesson, maybe he should look down at his hand or check his trophy case.
Very few individuals have those championship rings, owners included, and Gilbert isn’t about a championship. Not if he’s going to pick a player over the franchise’s winningest head coach.
But Gilbert isn’t the first owner to be a dumbass when it comes to pining for a ring.
Mark Cuban did it when he fired Avery Johnson.
Jerry Reinsdorf did it when he fired Phil Jackson.
The New Jersey Nets did it when they fired Byron Scott.
Now add Brown to this list.
And what do those history lessons prove when owners make dumb ass decisions like this?
Their franchises either never gets back to the NBA Finals or they simply fade away from oblivion.
And usually what happens is that the franchise player never sniffs a ring in his career.
Want to take wagers on that statement? I’m game.
Jason Kidd has been to the Finals THREE times in his career and has never won one series.
Dirk Nowitzki’s only appearance was in 2006 and it was abysmal.
But James’ fall from grace, three years removed, is by far the worse in recent memory because he is the “Chosen One”. I mean come on; the guy had Bernie Mac preaching in a Nike commercial.
Yet the Chosen One couldn’t lead his team any closer than a five year old learning how to stop a run away train.
When you don’t have the skills necessary, that job is difficult.
But what Gilbert did early Monday morning wasn’t just dumb but enabling the process.
James doesn’t want a headstrong coach; he wants to be the coach himself.
Well sorry LeBron but the player/coach mantle got dissolved in the league a long time ago.
The last guy to have title was Lenny Wilkins.
Ironically Wilkins is reported to want to come back coach the Cavs again.
I’m sorry but what can the winningest and LOSINGEST head coach accomplish that Brown couldn’t do with that bloated roster?
And that goes for anyone else like a Mike Fratello, Paul Silas or anyone else who thinks that he can get LeBron to where he wants to go.
That’s simply not going to happen.
Not when you refuse to treat James for what and who he is; a player.
Granted he may be one of the best players that franchise has ever seen but in the end that’s all he is.
A bona fide winner?
A leader that guys want to follow?
Someone who believes in a winning concept and knows he needs a supporting cast to get it done?
Seriously, we’re not going to have that conversation are we?
And the worse part of it all is that Gilbert decided that it is easier to get rid of coaching staff that has given his franchise playoff consistent playoff appearances, back to back sixty win seasons and the best chance at getting back to the Finals than any new staff ever could.
Butt instead of Gilbert truly doing an organizational assessment of his basketball operations, he decided to place the failures on Brown and not on his high priced superstar.
Whether Gilbert wants to accept this reality or not, the fact is that LeBron James doesn’t care about winning titles; he is truly all about the money.
If James was truly wanting to win titles, he would have immediately told everyone within the sound of his voice that ‘his’ coaching staff prepared us for the playoffs by guiding us to a 63 win season and that it was up to him and his teammates to finish the job by winning seventeen playoff games.
If James was truly about winning titles, he would have told Gilbert that I don’t need a new head coach; I need guys who aren’t past their prime and costing this franchise money.
That means that he didn’t need to have an aging Antwan Jamison playing next to him this season.
That means he didn’t need an over the hill Shaquille O’Neal who was five years removed from his prime and costing this franchise a $20 million price tag.
That would mean that he would be wanting a guy like a Caron Butler by his side as Mo Williams ran the show and that he would do everything he could to help his team get a guy like Chris Bosh this summer; even if that meant down sizing his max deal so that more money was available for a three year run at the title.
And that meant him standing up for Brown this week; even when Brown got canned.
But James didn’t do any of that and that’s poor leadership skills and abilities on him.
Gilbert probably figured that out and used whatever leverage he could to make a decision that was as dumb as sticking your wet finger in a live circuit.
So while Brown will quickly get hired by one of the other teams looking for a head coach, Gilbert is going to do everything he can to appease his star and end up with a retread in the organization.
He’s not going to get a John Calapari or a Coach K; those guys have everything they want at the college ranks and that’s total autonomy and control of their job situations.
He’s not going to get a Phil Jackson or a Gregg Popovich because those two guys are going to be with their current teams.
Whoever Gilbert gets will be LeBron’s lap dog and Gilbert’s puppet.
If Ferry and Lance Blanks were smart, they’d bail out by the end of next week and wait for a better opportunity.
They don’t deserve to be a part of this dumb ass move by Gilbert and the more they stay around, the more guilty they look in the grand scheme of things.
LeBron James’ best chance of winning a title was just let go and from this seat on the crow’s nest, both he and Dan Gilbert will never see an NBA Finals event in Cleveland ever again.
Unless both of them are playing NBA Live 2011 on a jumbotron in the Quicken arena.