OAKLAND -- Mike Brown will be seeing the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day. Please forgive him if he chooses to blind them with his new jewelry.
When the Cavaliers enter Oracle Arena next week to resume their continental rivalry with the NBA champion Warriors, Brown will be an assistant coach on the home team’s bench. And he’ll be very happy about that.
But not as happy as he is when asked about being a part of a Warriors team that went through the Cavaliers -- who fired him twice -- to win the NBA Finals last June.
Six months later and two months after receiving his flashy Warriors championship ring, Brown’s memory of that triumph is just as sweet.
“Yes,” he said on the NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Insider Podcast.
Brown spent 13 years on various NBA staffs before being hired by the Cavaliers in 2005 to be their head coach. He lasted five years, with Cleveland winning at least one playoff series each postseason and reaching the NBA Finals in 2007.
He was fired after the Cavs lost the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals and re-hired in 2013, signing a five-year contract worth a reported $20 million. He lasted all of one season before being shown the door a second time by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.
So pardon Brown if takes particular delight in helping the Warriors bounce the Cavs when in mattered most.
“I don’t care who it would have been -- I wanted to win, just like everybody else in the organization and the city,” Brown said. “I still have a lot of friends back there. My son goes to school back there. He wears his Golden State Warriors gear proudly and he got hated on, too. You add all of that to the fact that I was there twice, and got fired twice. To be able to beat those guys was a terrific feeling.”
Brown served as interim head coach last postseason, leading the Warriors to a 11-0 record while head coach Steve Kerr took a six-week leave of absence to deal with acute health challenges. Brown led the Warriors to a 113-91 win in Game 1 of The Finals before Kerr returned for Game 2.
The memory of winning that series still puts a smile on Brown’s face.
“When I go back there, my head is held up a little higher,” he said. “I’ve got a nice little pimp in my walk. My chest is puffed a little bit. I don’t talk too much, but I’m feeling good when I’m back that way now.”
As much as Brown savors the victory in The Finals, there is another element that also warms his heart. The Cavs are still paying him and will for “a few more years,” he said.