Why Not Let LeBron Coach the Cavs?
Ask LeBron James to coach the team. He'd be flattered. He probably would stay in Cleveland to do it, too.
Why not James? And why not now? Imagine the attention, and marketing opportunities. Imagine the buzz and historic implications. The King and His Court -- literally.
None of the other guys are going to win more games than freshly-fired Mike Brown did -- 127 in the last two years -- so why not let James give it a whirl? Everyone thought he was coaching the team before, anyway.
The whole concept isn't as silly as it sounds. Basketball isn't as complex as some analysts make it seem. And it's a simple game at this level -- you take great athletes and convince them to play hard and play together. Even coaches will admit, that's 90 percent of the job in the NBA.
Top-notch assistants coaches could handle the other 10 percent for LeBron. That's what the Boston Celtics did a long time ago, and maybe it's time to revisit the idea if it keeps him in Cleveland, where he belongs.
The Celtics won a championship with player/coach Bill Russell in 1969, the third and final season he served in both roles.
The most storied franchise in NBA history brought back the idea 10 years later with Dave Cowens for one season (1978-79), although it didn't work so well that time. But his players was horrible. Lenny Wilkens was the player/ coach in Seattle for three seasons, and he, too, ended up in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
"I know where you're going with this. I wouldn't be shocked to see it happen again,'' said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, a former point guard, before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final Monday night. "I don't think an owner or general manager would care who it was, if he could get 12 guys to follow him.''
Coaching Boston, Rivers is reminded daily about the history of the franchise, looking up at the championship banners. He knows Russell, and he knows how well Russell did that job in 1969.
Salary cap rules would prohibit the Cavs from paying James a double-dip coaching salary, leaving him with the NBA maximum player contract that will be worth more than $100 million.
For all his athletic talents, James also has a high basketball IQ. He understands the game. And there isn't a better player for others to follow than the defending, two-time Most Valuable Player. No one is going to quit on him.
Experienced assistants will be there to guide him, just like they did for Rivers when he took his first coaching job in Orlando. He had no coaching experience when the Magic hired him, leaning on his help.
And now he is looking for his second NBA title as coach, shaking his head at the way Brown was fired Sunday in Cleveland.
"I don't know what you have to do to keep your job anymore,'' Rivers said. "It's a tough profession, and it's getting tougher. A lot of coaches who have won championships have been fired.''
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, a career coach, concurred with Rivers when it came to the firing of Brown, whose fate was sealed when he lost three consecutive games in the conference semifinal round to Boston.
"Mike Brown is a great coach who got fired. He's a helluva coach. Let's be honest about it. He got fired on the basis of three games,'' Van Gundy said. "It's not about wins and losses anymore, it's about expectations. If you have LeBron James on your team, everyone assumed it was Mike's fault (they didn't win a championship).''