One of the most interesting side plots of the 2017 NBA Finals is Golden State Warriors interim coach Mike Brown going against his old team. Brown served two separate stints as the Cleveland Cavaliers head coach. The second one lasted only the 2013-14 season, and included a rocky relationship with point guard Kyrie Irving.
On Wednesday, Irving spoke on the matter, expressing regret that his relationship with Brown didn’t go better.
“It was a learning experience, to say the least,” Irving said, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “I kind of regret being part of that because he was just trying to teach me a lot of things that I didn’t necessarily understand as a 21-year-old in the NBA.”
During that one season, Irving played in a then career high 71 games, averaged 20.8 points per contest, and added 6.1 assists per game, which is still a career high.
Unfortunately for the Cavs and their fans, LeBron James’ return to Cleveland was still a year away. While the Cavaliers did post their best record during James’ four-year absence that season, the 33-49 mark was still not good enough to earn a playoff spot or, as it turned out, allow Brown to keep his job.
It’s nice that Irving could look back at it and acknowledge that things could have gone better. Too often, people look back at unsuccessful ventures and don’t look at their own parts in the failures. Irving was clearly not trying to do that here.
In truth, he did learn a lot under Brown, even if it didn’t show up in the team’s record. At the time, Irving was a young player with a lot of talent that had gone largely unfulfilled. He’s since become one of the game’s best guards. The situation may not have been ideal that season, but it worked out well enough for everyone in the end.