Though northern Ohio’s surfeit of jilted hate has abated over the past few years, every Cleveland-Miami matchup seems to come back to LeBron James and his time in Cleveland.
Cleveland has brought back Mike Brown, the Cavaliers coach during James’ last five years in Cleveland. Cleveland fired Brown a month and a half before James came to the Heat. Brown had an unsuccessful 71 games as Lakers coach before getting fired early last season.
“It’s good to see him back on the sidelines,” James said. “He helped me a lot. Especially defensively and as a leader to help my growth.”
Brown’s a James admirer, too.
“He is an extremely hard worker, one of the hardest I’ve been around,” Brown said. “When you have a guy that’s that hungry to get better, then you are going to keep getting better. The crazy part about it is, I wouldn’t put it past him that he can still improve his game. He is older, and he is better.”
Meanwhile, in Akron, Ohio, on Saturday, St. Mary played its first home basketball game of the season in the LeBron James Arena. James pledged $1 million to renovate the gym and locker room at his high school alma mater.
James said of the Cavaliers: “I watch most of the games when we aren’t playing. I watch pretty much every game. I do follow them a little bit to see what they’re doing.”
On Saturday night, James was a perfect 6 for 6 in the first half (15 points) with five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Brown got kicked out of the game with 3:14 left in the half after a double-technical foul.
The Heat’s Shane Battier blocked a fast-break dunk attempt by Alonzo Gee from behind, perhaps with some contact but with no call. Gee hadn’t landed when Brown shot onto the court to berate the officials. Referee Sean Wright gave Brown one technical foul, which seemed to inspire Brown to peak performance. Wright gave Brown another technical and sent him off. Brown entered Wright’s personal space, firing anger from a bobbing head. Cleveland players interceded before Brown earned himself a fine and unpaid leave.
Sitting it out
The Heat’s inactives were injured No. 1 ( Greg Oden, 2006) and No. 2 ( Michael Beasley, 2008) overall draft picks. … Rookie swingman Carrick Felix and center Tyler Zeller were inactive for the Cavaliers.