Mike Brown Empathy

ESPN laid off 100 people on Wednesday, and more on Friday, including veteran NBA writer Marc Stein, NBA draft expert Chad Ford and several associated with True Hoop, the collection of basketball writers who introduced analytics to the basketball narrrative. A lot of the layoffs were behind the scenes professionals, names you do not know.

One of the visible NBA writers was Ethan Strauss who covered the Warriors, wrote about them, opined on podcasts and SportsCenter segments about Warriors mindspeak and interpreted the Warriors for the fans who are denied locker room access. His job loss was the first thing Mike Brown acknowledged before he met with the media.

“I heard today that Ethan lost his job and a lot of people at ESPN obviously got laid off. This is obviously an exciting time for us, not only as an organization, but as a city, there’s a lot of good vibes going on. But that’s the reality of the world today. So we’re thinking of him and everybody that goes through that, not only in sports, but also in life.”

MIke Brown understands the shock and situational agony that losing your job creates. He was fired from his first coaching job, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in 2010, an overt sign to keeping LeBron James who was frustrated by Brown, a defensive coach.  All Mike Brown did was take the Cavs to the NBA Finals in 2007 but he endured an avalanche of criticism given that LeBron James was the center of all things. Then in 2012, Mike Brown was fired six games in the season by a jittery Los Angeles Lakers front office, which caught him by surprise. He had earlier been given a vote of confidence by Mitch Kupchak.  We all know how those votes of confidence work out- start packing your bags. Mike Brown was hired again by the Cavaliers in 2013 and they fired him a second time after just one year (the players tuned him out) and to say that Mike Brown isn’t lucky is an understatement. He was fired the first time and LeBron James left. He was fired the second time and LeBron James came back.

Mike Brown grew up overseas and graduated from high school in Germany before he returned to the United States for college. He wasn’t good enough to be a professional NBA-er after graduating from the University of San Diego so he went the video coordinator route then he was part of the Spurs system where he won a title in 2003. He joined Rick Carlisle in Indiana and was on the sidelines for the infamous Ron Artest brawl at the Palace before becoming LeBron James coach in 2005, LeBron’s third year in the league.

Brown coached James and then he coached Kobe Bryant and now he is giving direction to Steph Curry so no one feels sorry for him despite his job insecurity. He has coached three players who have won 9 NBA titles though none of those because of Brown. If Kerr isn’t able to return this season Brown has a spectacular chance for his first head coaching ring. Regardless, having coached LeBron, Kobe, Steph and Kevin Durant is some star resume.

Mike Brown is one of the nicest men in the NBA. Good karma revisits special people. Ethan Strauss was a real person to Mike Brown, not just some annoying writer who legitimized both Warriors praise and Warriors critique. Acknowledging the pain of Ethan’s heartbreak- as well as everyone and anyone who has suddenly lost their job through no fault of their own- was more than classy, it was a Mike Brown thing to do.


photo via llananba