Sunday, May 29, 2005

Browns coming to town

So the Cavaliers have hired Mike Brown to be the head coach. You can read all the details here. Who is he? Well, the first thing you are going to hear is that he's young. Um, he's young and he's not Phil Jackson.

Well, that's true, he's just 35. In fact, he's been 35 for just two months. And he's not Phil Jackson or Flip Saunders, who a lot of fans wanted and who Jim Paxson would've hired if he were still the general manager. But Cavs owner Dan Gilbert actually believes he's found the next Phil Jackson in Brown. I'm serious, he's told people that.

It isn't that Brown is 35, he's been in the league since he was 22 so he has experience. It's that he's a first-time head coach. He's never been a head coach on any level. That means the margin for error is much smaller and the Cavs really don't have much of a margin for error right now. That's why Saunders would've been safer.

But with Larry Brown looming as the potential boss, no coach with a real choice would take the Cavs job. Not with LB hanging back there in the bullpen ready to take over when he feels like it. Plus, with cash coming for LB, the owners weren't looking to lay out huge dollars for head coach.

That said, everyone I talked to said good things about Mike Brown, calling him a perfect head coach in waiting. He's focused on defense, which was very important to Gilbert, but he also has a good history of developing players. Perhaps it'll be a great investment. But perhaps one of a dozen hot shot assistants hit it big as head coaches. For every Rick Carlisle, there's a basket of coaches who don't work out.

For the moment, however, I am much more interested in just how Gilbert is going to explain himself. He told everyone he planned to hire a GM/president first and the a head coach. So, either, A) he's violated his word and started building the team the exact opposite way that everyone knows is the right way. Or, B) He knows Larry Brown is going to take the job despite the fact that the Pistons are supposed to be playing for a championship and isn't LB supposed to be scheming and signing off on a new head coach for another NBA. That ought to go over real well.

Look, I'm not saying I could do any better. But Gilbert has already made some mistakes and right now he's trying to thread a needle. Hey, it's his money so it's his call. But if he thinks hiring Larry Brown is going to trigger the media to throw a ticker tape parade, he can forget it. If he was going to coach, OK, that's something different. As a president? The guy wanted to trade Allen Iverson a bunch of times. If LeBron has a bad practice, will he want to do the same? I can't predict what the fan base will think, but don't expect the media to line up to swallow kool aid.

Hey, maybe Gilbert will look like a genius in the end. He's used to that with his companies so we'll see if it carries over, I guess.

For more, check out my Sunday column and Terry Pluto's view.

Take care,
Brian
bwindhor@thebeaconjournal.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

It wasn't sausage gravy, rather a peanut butter sandwich

This from the ever witty blog loyalist Alan Tucker:

"You haven't written a new blog entry for almost three weeks. Hell, even Anne Frank found something to write about on a slow day. So if you can't think of anything else, at least jot down what you had for lunch. "Sausage and gravy" is better than blank space."

With such strong encouragement, how could I not blog?

The NBA coaching carousel is starting to spin and the Cavaliers are still interviewing new candidates as you can read in my story from today about Indiana Pacers assistant Mike Brown. Last week there was a little dust up about Kiki Vandeweghe and Chuck Daly, which I had to address.

But I still think the Cavs are just spinning their wheels waiting to get an answer from Larry Brown. Just about the whole NBA knows that Brown will retire from coaching at the end of the season, due to health problems and because it's time to leave Detroit. Whether or not the Cavs can convince him to be their top man is yet to be seen.

"Larry loves to be romanced," one NBA executive told me.

"I talk to everyone in the organization and nobody seems to know what's the plan is, except they all expect us to go after Larry Brown," one Cavaliers official told me.

So it is my current belief that all of this will be a wait and see until after the playoffs are over. If you read my story from today, the word out there is that the Cavs want to stay cheap on their head coach and perhaps GM so they can throw a lot of money at a president (the role Pat Riley has in Miami, Larry Bird has in Indy and Danny Ainge does in Boston to name a few). It seems like that's where Brown could come in. I don't think they officially hire a GM or coach until that is all settled, but I could be wrong.

This is really a three-ring circus for me right now. There's the coach, the front office and LeBron James firing his agent. Speaking of that, I wouldn't pass judgment on LeBron's decision to fire Aaron Goodwin, a man I personally respect, until we know exactly what his intentions are. That will become clear (hopefully to me so I can tell all of you) in the next two months.

I'm working to sort all this stuff out and I'll be in touch.

On a personal note, I'm finally home for awhile after my season-ending travels. I visited Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Denver and various points in Colorado, Boston, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas and Death Valley, CA. It was a nice relaxing ride, even though I was almost constantly on my toes concerning the Cavs.

Also, for housekeeping purposes, I'm told by the folks at Ohio.com that all of Akron Beacon Journal blogs are soon to move to another host site. I know this is going to be a pain, it will be to me as well. I'm not sure of the timetable, but I'll keep you informed.

Take care,
Brian
bwindhor@thebeaconjournal.com

p.s. On a personal note, I'd like to wish my close friend Jon Wile luck this week as he starts his new job at the Washington Post. If any of you subscribe to the Cleveland Plain Dealer (if you must), Jon was responsible for the great designs on the sports page over the last two years. He'll now be doing it for the folks in D.C.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The smart guy

Can you believe I'm blogging again? See what a little free time can do to a person.

This one is a little different. The other day I saw Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room (warning, the website is complex). It is a limited release film, so I'm not sure if it is playing near you, but it is very interesting. Though it is produced by fellow blogger and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban -- and he doesn't need the money from this low-level endorsement -- it is an interesting flick. I'm no business major so I didn't understand all the lingo (it's a documentary), but I was struck by the pompous attitude of the company's top executives even as it was obvious they were going down in flames.

Which is why I'm blogging about this. The Enron leaders' attitude reminded me, cryptically and cynically, of new Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and his cronies. Perhaps it is just the way highly successful millionaires handle things in the modern business world. Make no mistake, I'm not saying that Gilbert's business is shady like Enron, though I have trouble understanding the value of an interest-only mortgage. I openly say I wish I had about $500,000 to invest with Gilbert's venture capitalist firm about seven years ago.

But the brash swagger of Enron's execs and the belief that they were smarter than everyone else was their downfall. I'm not suggesting Gilbert is setting himself up for fall, but he's certainly confident despite the huge task in front of him. Two of his co-owners have the nicknames "Search" and "Destroy." I need not say more.

Just yesterday, Nets owner Bruce Ratner, who is to real estate what Gilbert & his gang are to mortgages, admitted to the ravenous New York media that he was unprepared to be an owner when he took over last summer. And he didn't have to hire and coach and general manager, either.

In fact, Gilbert has already made as many or more important big decisions than any owner (except perhaps Lakers owner Jerry Buss) this last season and he's been in control barely two months. Yet he's not shy about taking swings at the media or to assuring everyone that once his people are in place things will be different. Maybe he's right. But boy, I couldn't shake an eerie feeling during that movie.

Either way, I recommend it.

p.s. I found it comical that Jason Williams got fined 10 large for screaming and taking a pen away from a reporter the other night. I have seen things happen between reporters and players that were worse. In fact, Jeff McInnis' treatment of me this season was worse. But it didn't happen in front of television cameras and wasn't on ESPN like Williams' incident.

Take care,
Brian
bwindhor@thebeaconjournal.com.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Giving thanks for my little corner of the Blogosphere

So this afternoon, I was milling about a book store in the hamlet of Dillon, Colo., and I found a title called Blogosphere: The Challenge to the Monopoly of the Mainstream Media.

It is an entire volume of how blogs are killing off big media. So, because I am technically part of the mainstream media, I questioned whether this little exercise is akin to eating my young. Let's hope not.

It did, however, lead me to think about my beloved little blog here. It was an idea I hatched last fall and turned into fruition with the help of several colleagues at the Beacon Journal, especially Ohio.com's Jim Arnold, whom I'd like to give thanks.

As we basically wrap the first season of the blog -- don't worry, I'll be writing all summer -- I'd like to thank all of you, my readers.

This has been a highly engaging endeavor, one that is still very much evolving and most of it has been due to great response from many of you. I'm still learning how to make this rewarding. Like you, I wish I could've written more and I intend to sort of streamline the process before next season so we can be more in touch. I'd like to add more links and, of course, more posts.

This is a dynamic time to follow the Cavaliers and even though I'm in the hard-hearted media, I am thankful to have the chance to report the goings on to all of you. This summer promises to be packed full of team-changing events and actions and I will do my best to keep you on the inside the whole way, while occasionally tossing you a slice of my weird little life.

So again, thanks for joining me in the Blogosphere, I look forward to its future.

For updates on Phil Jackson, read this story from today and this from last week. Yes, even away on my mind-clearing odyssey, I'm still filing.

Take care,
Brian
bwindhor@thebeaconjournal.com