War­riors coach down­plays his past with ri­val team

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LOS AN­GE­LES: Mike Brown, stand­ing in for Golden State coach Steve Kerr as the War­riors head into an un­prece­dented NBA cham­pi­onship rub­ber match with Cleve­land, is down­play­ing his com­pli­cated Cava­liers con­nec­tions.

Brown has been at the helm as the War­riors stormed un­beaten through the first three rounds of the play­offs with Kerr side­lined by de­bil­i­tat­ing symp­toms stem­ming from back surgery two years ago.

Brown coached Cava­liers su­per­star Le­Brun James for five years in Cleve­land be­fore Cavs owner Dan Gil­bert sacked him for the first time.

By the time Gil­bert hired Brown back be­fore the 2013-14 sea­son James had al­ready mi­grated to Mi­ami.

An in­jury-rav­aged Cleve­land team went 33-49 be­fore Brown was fired again in May of 2014 – shortly be­fore James re­turned to Cleve­land as a free agent and two-time NBA cham­pion with the Heat.

“It’s all over the place. It’s not some­thing that I can hide from or run from,” Brown said of his con­nec­tion with the Cavs.

“It’s a lit­tle ironic that things hap­pen in life this way. I was just talk­ing to my boys about it. It’s like ‘The Lion King.’ It’s the ‘Cir­cle of Life.’“

Golden State for­ward Kevin Du­rant is an­other new­comer to the third in­stal­ment of War­riorsCavs who has history with James.

Du­rant’s only prior ap­pear­ance in the cham­pi­onship se­ries was with Ok­la­homa City in 2012 – when the Thun­der fell to the Mi­ami Heat in the Fi­nals that gave James his first ti­tle.

“It’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, def­i­nitely,” Du­rant said of head­ing into the ti­tle show­down with the fa­vored War­riors after con­tro­ver­sially depart­ing Ok­la­homa City as a free agent be­fore this sea­son.

“I can’t lie. I went when I was 23 years old and it felt like the West­ern Con­fer­ence Fi­nals was al­most like the cham­pi­onship,” he said. “So it’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent now, ob­vi­ously. We have a big­ger goal in mind.” AFP

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