EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. - The Los Angeles Lakers made it official on Tuesday, naming Mike Brown their next head coach.
"We're very pleased to welcome Mike Brown to the Lakers," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "What Mike brings to the table is unique in that he's a proven winner in this league and yet also a rising star in his profession. After an extensive and thorough search to find the right person to help carry on our championship legacy, we feel that Mike is poised and ready to do so."
Brown spent five years coaching the LeBron James-led Cavaliers and guided the club to a 272-138 record with playoff appearances each year. The Cavs reached the NBA Finals in 2007 and were swept by San Antonio.
"I thought my time with LeBron was terrific. I thought it was productive, I thought it was good," Brown said. "Any time you're in a position of authority and you're dealing with talented individuals they're going to have their own views or opinions on certain things, which I welcome."
After the Cavs went 66-16 in 2008-09, Brown was named the NBA's Coach of the Year, but the team bowed out in the Eastern Conference finals that spring to Orlando. He was fired following the 2009-10 season after Cleveland went 61-21 in the regular season, but had a second-round playoff exit to Boston.
In the past, Brown's teams have been known for solid defense, something he prides himself on. The Lakers struggled defensively in the playoffs this year, especially while they were swept by Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals. The Mavericks finished 49-of-106 from beyond the arc, setting an NBA record for the most three-pointers in a four-game series.
"I have three staples on that end of the floor," Brown said. "The first one is strengthen the floor. We don't want anything easy to happen in that paint. The second thing is we're not giving up little drives. If the ball gets to the middle of the floor, there's too many outlets. You can go left, you can go right, you can finish at the rim. The third thing is you give multiple effort, you finish it with a contest. Those three things my players will hear often."
The Lakers needed a replacement for the retired Phil Jackson.
The first coach in NBA history to lead a team to three straight championships three different times, Jackson coached the Lakers for 11 seasons after leading the Chicago Bulls for nine.
"In terms of replacing a legend in Phil, I'm not him. I'm not going to be him," Brown said. "I have to be who I am. I'm confident, secure and happy with that. But I do have mentors that I reached out to just to talk about this in general."
The 65-year-old Jackson, a Hall of Famer, won 11 total championships. He and superstar Kobe Bryant combined for 118 playoff victories, the most by a player-coach tandem in NBA history.
As it turns out, the Lakers never contacted Bryant to ask for his opinion on hiring Brown, who admitted Tuesday that the team still revolves around the 13- time All-Star.
"This is still his team. He's got five titles, he's one of the greatest ever. His role will not change," Brown said. "We'll make sure that he'll have the ball in the sweet spots he likes to have them in. A lot of this stuff I already went over with Kobe so he has a great understanding of my vision and he's on board."
Brown sees a Lakers team next season that will feature Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest eager to get back to the NBA Finals after missing out on a chance for a three-peat this year.
"I'm a big guy and I like to eat. It makes me hungry and what happens to them has made them hungry," Brown said. "Hopefully when we start training camp I have 15 angry men that I have to work with."