Mama, there goes that coach: Why Cleveland needs to make its Mark

I brought this idea up about a year ago and was looked at like I knew nothing about basketball.

I forget whether it was in an online forum or on the phone with a friend or during a conversation with a perfect stranger but in one, or most likely all, of these cases, I was laughed out of the building.

We mock what we don’t understand.

During the time of said suggestion, which I’ll get to in a moment, the Cleveland Cavaliers were in need of a head coach.  They had succumbed to the David Blatt experiment for far too long.  Blatt, who coached there for a season-and-a-half, had no NBA head coaching experience when given the job.  Cleveland hired him to shake things up a bit.  This was before they knew LeBron James would have a change of heart and move back to town.

Blatt Cleveland

When Blatt was fired halfway into his second season, there wasn’t a man in America not named Steve Kerr who wouldn’t have jumped at the opportunity to coach LeBron James in his returned determination to “Bring a title to the ‘Land.”

The Cavs hired Tyronne Lue who, like Blatt, had zero head coaching experience.

I suggested the Cavs hire Mark Jackson.

Before you start to laugh me out of the building too, allow me to establish a few core points.

The Cavs are not about to lose these Finals because of Tyronn Lue.  They are about to lose because the Warriors are the superior team.

But with all due respect to Lue and the lone title he won as a Laker, LeBron has forgotten more about basketball than this guy will ever know.  He is hardly equipped to coax the league’s most dominant player into beating the league’s most dominant team.  Few are.  Again to be clear, the Cavs are not losing these Finals because of Lue but they certainly aren’t going to win it because of him!

There is only one man on this planet who wants to beat these Warriors more than anything… and that is the coach they once fired.  Mark Jackson coached Golden State for three full seasons.  He brought them from 23 wins to 47 in his second year.  He was fired after they fell short of a title… in only his third season.

Mark Jackson, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green

You can hear it in Jackson’s voice, sometimes subtle sometimes not so much, as he broadcasts their games for ESPN.  It’s like he’s announcing his ex-fiancée’s wedding recital to a far more handsome groom.

Jackson is brooding.  I say give him a shot.  What do they have to lose?

Of course, the Cavs also need to tinker (substantially) with their line-up.  JR Smith just needs to go away.  Kevin Love needs to mix something other than tofu and lettuce into his diet.  And everyone who touches the ball not named LeBron James needs to FUCKING DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE.

Look, the Cavaliers are going to make it back to the Finals next season regardless of who is coaching them… but they’re not going to win it.  They need that extra push that only a fiery, bitterly inspired coach can provide.

The road to the Finals will run through Oakland for the next several years.   There’s no shame in game-planning for that.  The Cavs wouldn’t be the first to construct their team around a competitive roadblock.  For years, the Bulls would load up their roster with centers to frustrate Patrick Ewing.  It worked.  Championship golf courses have Tiger-proofed their tracks in an attempt to ensure Mr. Woods wouldn’t dominate their tournaments.  That worked as well but not as effectively as back surgery and a headline-shattering sex scandal.  When the CIA wants to kill Jason Bourne, what do they do?  They contract the only other lethal assassins they know and send them on their way.

If I’m Dan Gilbert, I’d be bold.  I sign Mark Jackson to a one year contract and pay him a king’s ransom or better yet, load it with incentives.  That’s a deal I’m pretty sure Mark Jackson would take.  Make a spectacle out of it. Embrace the bad guy role so LeBron desperately wanted in Miami.  As Cleveland’s owner, your sole purpose is to beat Golden State in the Finals and so far you’re doing a lousy job of it.

Cleveland literally has nothing to lose at this point.  It’s not like they’re winning a title anyway.  There’s no way Jackson wouldn’t light the fire under their asses they need.  I’m not saying they’d win a title with Jackson as their coach but he’s a better fucking choice than Tyronn Lue.

I watched the final quarter of the embarrassment now known as Game Two.  Lue had pulled his starters with over half the quarter left to play.  What for?  To teach them a lesson?  This is the fucking Finals!  I don’t care if you’re down thirty.  You keep your starters, including LeBron James, out there and you have them claw their way back into that game.  Mark Jackson would have had that team walking back to Cleveland had they lost that badly.

Cavs bench

In my mind, the answer is simple.  It’s low risk, high reward.  Nobody wants to beat these Warriors more than Jackson.  You can now add Gilbert, LeBron and the entire city of Cleveland to that list.  You can’t afford to give Tyronn Lue another whole year to figure this out.  To me that’s riskier than hiring a guy who sleeps with a Steph Curry voodoo doll by his bedside.

Going with what you got clearly is not working.  Shake things up a bit and hire Mark Jackson.  The only thing you have to lose is another Finals.

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15 Replies to “Mama, there goes that coach: Why Cleveland needs to make its Mark”

  1. Good analysis, Chris. I thought with healthy teammates this year, LeBron would make it happen. Give Jackson a shot. You’ve nothing to lose.

  2. The difference to me, Jimmy, between a Lue and let’s say a Spoelstra, who was also a rookie head coach out of a film room with no playing experience is that Riley recognized something in the guy.

    He had been hand-picked and hand-crafted by a guy with incredible basketball pedigree.

    I’m not sure such a person exists within the Cleveland organization.

    The more I think about it, the more I think the Cavs are just lucky LeBron is from, and loves, Cleveland.

  3. I can never picture Tyronn Lue as anything other than the scrub who fell on his ass and had A.I. step over him after burying a jumper on route to 48 points and the lone loss for the Lakers 2001 title squad in game 1 of the Finals….Lue may actually be a decent coach, who knows, but he’s forever stereotyped as that Gilligan-like buffoon to me.

    Mark Jackson must cringe every time Steve Kerr’s name is spoken. No offense to Kerr, but he’s wearing Mark’s ring…I like the idea of Jackson to the Cavs…Motivation certainly wouldn’t be a problem should they see GSW in the Finals again next year.

    But that won’t be enough to hide the fact that Kevin Love has a vagina.
    Dude is Greg Oden Jr.

    I think he chose uniform #0 because that’s how many times he’s played every game in a season.

  4. Here’s the real issue Chris , who did Spoelstra have as a mentor ? Bear in mind he rose up through the ranks , having first worked as a video analyst and statistician for the Miami Heat.

    Tyronn Lue was a player who had moderate success in the NBA. All that David Blatt had on his resume, was the fact he coached the Euro League of European Basketball. Which begs the question, what the hell were the Cavaliers’ front office thinking when they hired Blatt ? I said it all along , he was the wrong coach for the job , even when the Cavaliers made the Finals last season,

    I’ve my own eulogy concerning the death of Ali up on the site. As and when you’re ready let me know what you think.

  5. Remember this time last year when the “incompetent David Blatt” had the Cavs up 2-1 over the Warriors?

  6. I used to like Love, Bleed.

    I’m not sure what’s happened over the years or maybe whether his numbers in Minnesota were inflated because no one else was on that team (Like Dwight in Orlando?)

    Look, Cleveland looked okay last night but that’s because they finally stuck to their damn game plan.

    If Lue is the one responsible for making that happen, then by all means keep him.

    We still have a long series to go.

  7. I’ll be right over to check out your latest, Al, but that’s my point with the Cavs.

    Who within that organization is capable of building a true championship team?

    It’s not like Jerry Wests grows on trees.

  8. I’m surprised no one’s given him another shot, Bill.

    Look, coaching in this league can’t be easy. You have to have talent to even be in anyway competitive. Sure some coaches are obviously better than others but you have to have some star power to matter.

    Which is why I really wanna see what Vogel does in Orlando with a pretty lousy team.

    I also wanna see what a hard-nosed defensive-minded Thibodeau does with a team like Washington. One would think defense isn’t the first thing on John Wall’s and Bradley Beal’s minds.

  9. Even up, Dub, the jury was still out on Blatt.

    I guess by hiring a European (Isreali) coach, they thought they were thinking outside the box, trying to mix things up by finding the next D’Antoni.

    Well, we all know how that worked out. In both cases.

    Oh, and this D’Antoni to Houston thing is gonna be just priceless.

  10. You’re on to something there Chumpy.. but are LeBoner and the Cav’s ready for Jackson’s fire and brimstone verse spouting sermons? Not everyone reads from the same hymnal, if any at all, in the modern NBA.

    And buddy, I thought that you were done playing with your voodoo dolls. You don’t want any of that bad juju sticking…

  11. TH…

    Here’s one other thing that the Warriors don’t get enough credit for. They’re disciplined.

    Disciplined teams win championships. These things don’t happen on a whim.

    Maybe that’s what the Cavs need. Look, this team is clearly capable of beating the Warriors…. IF they stick to their game plan.

    But they don’t.

    MJ might just be the man that can get them to do that.

    We forget Mark Jackson was a mother of a basketball player. And we knew these Warriors were going to win this series.

    Again, my thinking is what do they have to lose? What’s more of a gamble? Giving Jackson a shot or giving Lue another year to figure this out?

  12. Mark Jackson is not the answer in Cleveland . We saw the mess he created in the locker room , when he ranted and raged bringing his personal beliefs (homosexuality) in there at a time when the team needed for him to be a damn coach. Jackson remains an @ss and if you believe he’s worth the risk, then you might as well concede Bernie Sanders should become the next President of the US.

    The issue in Cleveland is the very fact Dan Gilert as the team owner and GM David Griffin are seeking way too much input as to what LeBron wants concerning the building of the team’s roster rather than the actual needs of the team. Hell who on the team actually plays a lick of real defense , other than LBJ when needed ?

    Weaknesses of the Cavs remains, there is no one who consistently steps up to the plate night in and night out other than LeBron James. They have been losing games in this series by an average of twenty four points .

    Last season it in the NBA Finals the average loss was less than double-digits. So what does that tell you especially when you consider neither Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving were participants in the Finals ? This year they have both Love and Irving , the series is turning into a lopsided fiasco up to this point , along with the usual refereeing inconsistencies .

  13. Tim Donaghy believes the fix is in concerning the officiating in these NBA Finals. Well if Donaghy is telling us that , then we should believe him shouldn’t we ?

    Rumors are already beginning, Tom Thibodeau will make a play to lure Jimmy Butler away from the Chicago Bulls. Can’t see that happening , unless it’s over the dead body of Bulls’ owner Jerry Reinsdorf !

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