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Mike Brown: Lakers' firing 'did sting,' now eagerly runs Cavaliers

The coach famous for putting the Lakers through their paces is looking forward to the challenge of overseeing a young Cleveland team. His new squad beat his old in Summer League opener.

July 12, 2013|By Ben Bolch

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LAS VEGAS — Mike Brown needs another nickname.

"All Day Every Day" doesn't fully account for the hours the Cleveland Cavaliers coach is working in his new job with his old team.

"I come to the gym at 2 or 3 in the morning and he's still there," guard Dion Waiters said Friday.

The coach who was famous for putting the Lakers through lengthy practices, shoot-arounds and walk-throughs better hope Ohio's labor laws don't forbid the kind of schedule he's unfurled for the Cavaliers in recent days.

There have been two-a-day practices. Ninety-minute monologues. There was even a walk-through … before a Summer League game.

"Everything's got to be on point," forward-center Tyler Zeller said. "You've got to get it right or else you do it over."

Brown was hogging so much of the coaching duties he actually apologized to Jamahl Mosley, his team's official Summer League coach, saying he just couldn't resist the chance to give his new players a taste of the culture he plans to instill.

Consider their aching bodies forewarned.

"It's just crazy," Waiters said. "I mean, we've had four long practices, so I'm just trying to get my legs back. It will probably take a couple of days."

Waiters' legs betrayed him during Cleveland's 70-62 victory over the Lakers at Cox Pavilion in the teams' Summer League opener, his shot continually flat. He missed 10 of 11 shots and finished with three points.

Brown didn't interact with his current or former teams during the game. He sat for an interview with NBA TV's Reggie Miller and Steve Kerr in the first half before cheerfully signing basketballs and other items while perched in the upper reaches of the arena.

Brown admitted in an interview with The Times that being dismissed by the Lakers in November after a 1-4 start still hurt eight months later.

"It did sting and will always sting," Brown said, "but not to a point to where I'm holding onto it or anything like that. More than anything else, I just appreciate the opportunity and appreciate my time in L.A."

Did the Lakers' subsequent struggles under Coach Mike D'Antoni signal to Brown that the team's problems went beyond coaching?

"I always felt that we were going to come together," Brown said. "When you put a bunch of guys together, it takes some time. It's just my belief and it may be different than other people's, but I just feel like things take time to come together and I felt like I had a plan and I felt like the plan I had was going to be good."

It could be argued Brown is in a better place, at least for next season. The Cavaliers have a young and dynamic roster that includes Kyrie Irving, Jarrett Jack and No. 1 draft pick Anthony Bennett in addition to former Lakers Andrew Bynum and Earl Clark.

Brown could not comment on Bynum because his signing has not been officially announced.

"I don't know what you're talking about with Andrew Bynum," Brown said, laughing, "but I'm definitely excited about Earl Clark. I like his youth, I like his length, I like his athleticism, but more importantly I like his versatility on both ends of the floor."

The coach who four years ago guided Cleveland to its only Finals appearance in his first stint with the Cavaliers has been embraced upon his return. Owner Dan Gilbert has acknowledged firing Brown in 2010 was a mistake considering he went an impressive 272-138 in five seasons.

Cleveland feels so much like home to Brown that he had decided to move his family back there before the Cavaliers job came open. His oldest son, Elijah, will play basketball at Butler in Indianapolis next season and his son Cameron is planning to attend Westlake High in a suburb of Cleveland.

You could say Brown is also going back to school, working on a doctorate in NBA defense. As he observed the Lakers befuddle his team on one end of the court Friday, Brown had a ready explanation.

"The Lakers are trapping and running all over the place," Brown said, "and we don't know what we're doing because all we've done is defensive drills for four straight practices."

Has Brown at least given his players a moment's break to ponder a new nickname for their coach?

"Hey, these guys are too young," Brown said. "This is not the veteran group that I had in L.A., so they don't know any better right now."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

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