Magic: Mike Brown’s lack of in-game adjustments cost Cleveland championship

We have to go back to history with Mike. Mike didn’t get it done in Cleveland. If he can’t get the championship done in Cleveland, having the game’s best player (LeBron James), how are you going to come to Los Angeles and win it? It’s just too bad. I think he will get another job, but it just wasn’t the right fit for him here in Los Angeles. […] Mike Brown has one big flaw in his coaching: he does not make adjustments in game. That’s what killed him in Cleveland, and that’s what killed him with the Lakers. If you go back to every series that the Cleveland Cavaliers lost, and every series that the Lakers lost, Mike Brown did not make adjustments within the game. That’s it. Let’s keep it real. If we’re going to be real, then let’s keep it real. That’s his biggest flaw. It’s not preparation. It’s not his defense, before the game and getting a game plan together. It’s within the game. That’s why.

— Legendary point guard Magic Johnson, as told to Sam Amick of the USA Today, in response to Mike Brown being fired by the Los Angeles Lakers five games in to the 2012-13 NBA season.

[Related: NBA Rookie Rankings: Fresh Meat]

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I remember that this was basically what we were saying around here when that was happening. Mike Brown’s rotation choices were abysmal and he seemed to lack the ability to make adjustments at halftime.

  • Steve

    I’ll patiently wait for Magic to break down where these adjustments so obviously should have been made. It’s one thing to say “not enough adjustments!” (without getting into specifics of course) after the team loses and being able to deal with them in real time.

    What cost Cleveland a championship was a few role players on the Magic getting hot all at the same wrong time. When guys like Alston, Lee, Pietrus, and Anthony Johnson combine to shot 40% from 3 for an entire series, Red Auerbach isn’t going to be able to do much.

  • cmm13


    But in my opinion it was Brown’s inability to FORCE James to learn how to play on the block away from the ball earlier in his career.

    People forget the reason for the “stagnant” offense we watched some nights, er…. most nights was not the fault of Brown not drawing up plays correctly.

    It’s was #6 not trusting the play, breaking off the play and creating his own forcing the rest of the team to play schoolyard.

    Mike’s ultimate downfall was he lacked control of his superstar and was not backed up by his owner who was too worried about rocking the boat losing his golden goose.

    Immaturity prevailed from all sides of the James/Brown/Gilbert equation.

  • Steve – let’s not pretend it was an accident that the Cavs lost that series becase the Magic got hot. They shot 40% because we didn’t guard them properly. That’s on Brown – he didn’t make the adjustments needed when the Magic starting killing us with 3’s.

  • cmm13

    Ironic isn’t it then that Mike Brown’s trademark is defense.

  • mgbode

    “every series that the Lakers lost”

    it’s going to take awhile to list out all those series that Mike Brown lost while with the Lakers. Mike Brown should have told Kobe to make that last 3pter in game4 vs. OKC. that adjustment would have turned the whole series!

    also, Magic seems pretty poignant that he knew of this problem from Brown’s Cleveland days. Perhaps he should have made this viewpoint crystal clear to the Buss’s before they hired Mike. Or maybe after the postseason?

    Still a terrible time to fire/hire a HC.

  • Oh, was it Mike Brown that quit against the Celtics?

  • mgbode

    and wait, when did LeBron become the greatest player in the NBA? is 1 > 5 now? According to Magic:

    “There’s always going to be guys who win championships in the NBA,
    except LeBron,” Johnson said at a recent appearance in Albany, N.Y.,
    “Don’t be mad. Everybody asks me who is better
    between Kobe or LeBron. I’m like, are you kidding me? Kobe has five
    championships and LeBron has zero.”

  • Steve

    Let’s not pretend that every series of events in sports must have a set narrative. Sometimes guys get hot. And they shot 45% from 3 as a team,

    Even well after the fact, I have still yet to hear what specific adjustments should have been made. We tried many different things that series, we tried every big man we had on Howard, we doubled him, we singled him to stay out on the shooters, we rotated who was on Turkoglu (the main ballhandler). They still made shots. Hey, it happens.

  • maxfnmloans

    they should have unveiled the five finger death punch for those guys, or the old school jewel jab from Mortal Kombat 3

    that series just ruined my summer. They did try almost everything and those stupid mfers kept hitting shots. It was nauseating. They needed to slide a foot under Turkoglu’s or Howard’s feet when they came up for a rebound, to get them to roll an ankle or something. What they needed was Bill Laimbeer (yeah I know, he sucked, but when he was on your team, he was awesome).

  • CBI

    Forgive me if my memory is bad but didn’t the Cav’s back court rotation consist of Williams, West, Szczerbiak, Pavlovic, and Gibson? West was an adequate defender but I’m not sure I’d use that term for the rest of the bunch. I’m not sure that there was enough talent there to be helped by adjustments.

  • the problem was that we had to sag in for howard. and then their outside guys got hot. happens.
    in response, we brought in fat shaq to make life harder for howard (so we could be perimeter D). that was the ONLY reason we brought in shaq; guard howard was the ONLY REASON gilbert plunked down $20M.

    what pissed me off about brown was that he is the one who insisted on running the offense through shaq against boston that year. it was really really dumb.

  • mgbode

    the 2 things I’ll remember most from that series is that Delonte had a loose ball just graze his fingertips that would have sealed a win (and I still think the series).

    and that Rashard Lewis PED suspension got leaked directly after they finished us off.

  • Steve

    I’m not sure he was the one who insisted it. Maybe, but it was more than clear that Brown was not given any room to stand his ground while here. Gilbert’s only plan was placate Lebron at every turn, and he Jerry Jones-ed his way through that process. By the end of the run, it was obvious that Brown was not actually in charge of the team. The guy who got Pavlovic and Gooden to play sound defense was really the same guy who kept running Jamison out there to get torched? I have a hard time believing that.

  • mgbode

    the one thing I’ll remember more than anything else about him is that Mike Brown got Wally Sczerbiak to play defense. It was just one series (vs. Ray Allen), but Wally was hustling and running and doing his best to stay with him and doing an okay job.

  • tsm

    If my memory is correct, Brown had LeBron guard the Magic guards rather than Turkoglu. This was his most significant failure in my view. If Howard was going to get is, we needed to be in the face of their shooters.

  • RGB

    Watching him stand on the sideline with that blank open-mouth look of utter confusion game after game was infuriating. Or seeing him looking into the stands during timeouts was even worse. I laughed out loud when the Lakers hired him.

  • BenRM

    There is plenty of room to attack the messenger here, but we levied the exact same criticisms multiple times in past years.