INDEPENDENCE, Ohio " Like his first year in Cleveland, LeBron James' second NBA season ended without a trip to the playoffs. The miss was inexcusable to Cavaliers rookie owner Dan Gilbert, who set out an immediate coaching search so it wouldn't happen again.
Gilbert plucked a highly regarded assistant off Indiana's staff, a likable guy who vowed to instill a defense-first identity in Cleveland.
Four years later, here's an updated answer: coach of the year.
Brown, who has taken Cleveland to the postseason in each of his four seasons, was honored Monday as the league's top coach after leading the Cavaliers to 66 wins, a Central Division title and the No. 1 overall playoff seed following the greatest regular season in club history.
With James and the other Cavaliers standing behind him and his coaching staff seated a few feet away, Brown humbly accepted the Red Auerbach trophy.
"If they did not want me to coach them, I wouldn't be able to coach them," he said. "I look at this as a partnership. Yes, my name is on this, but this is the ultimate team award from a coaching standpoint. I haven't put on a uniform or done anything out on the floor. The players have done it all. The coaching staff has done a lot and when you win an award like this, you can't do it by yourself.
"You have some great people around you."