Drew Gooden Deems Mike Brown’s Firing Unfair
MILWAUKEE – Drew Gooden is four years removed from playing under Mike Brown with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but his ties with the coach remain strong, as both men have gotten to know each other’s family. Brown’s firing on Friday surprised Gooden, and it left the veteran questioning whether the Los Angeles Lakers truly gave the system a legitimate chance.
In five seasons as the Cavaliers’ coach, Brown stabilized the organization, engrained his defensive principles into a young team headlined by LeBron James and helped lead Cleveland to the NBA Finals in 2007 and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009. Playing two and a half seasons with Cleveland, Gooden knows the journey wasn’t always smooth – there reportedly were negative feelings toward the offensive play-calling at times – but he took pride in the fact the Cavaliers came such a long way under Brown’s guidance.
“You have to buy into his system,” Gooden told RealGM on Saturday night. “The first year I had him, we lost to Detroit in the second round. But we kept getting better and better and bought into the system. And then in my second year there, we were in the Finals.
“So, it’s a system that takes time – attention to detail defensively. He’s one of the best defensive coaches I’ve played under, maybe the best.”
Around the league, most people were shocked that the Lakers let Brown go just five games into the season. As the ousting went down, Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry – Brown’s close friend and GM with the Cavaliers – was in a meeting, already mapping out a potential draft scenario, and a person in the room said he was stunned when he received the news.
Brown had to instill his system during a lockout-shortened schedule last season, and then he was pushed toward setting a whole new one, the Princeton offense, heading into this campaign – all while adjusting to two big additions, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
“It’s tough,” Gooden said. “He implemented a system [his] first year there and then the next year you try to switch the system again with two future Hall of Famers added to your roster in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash – and Antawn Jamison.
“It was unfair, but this is a business and people want to win now, especially with a team put [together] like that. … He’s one of those coaches that will be offered another job sometime here in the near future.”