Today the NBA announced its Coach of the Year for the 2008-09 season. Mike Brown of the Cleveland Cavaliers was the run-away winner with 55 first place votes and 355 points, doubling anyone close to him. The runner-up was Rick Adelman of the Houston Rockets with 151 points, Stan Van Gundy of the Magic was third with 150 and our own Nate McMillan finished fourth with 127 points.
As much as it pains and almost disgusts me to say it, you can’t say Mike Brown shouldn’t have won it. Generally speaking, as of late the COY has tended to go to a coach who has taken his team from the bottom to the top (Sam Mitchell, Mike D’Antoni, Hubie Brown) or a coach who has exceeded expectations either for himself or that team (Avery Johnson). This year the team with the best record won it and you can’t say it isn’t deserved. (You can say that 98% of this award should go to LeBron James, the other 1% to Danny Ferry and Mike Brown should get 1%. Had to get a dig in.) Cleveland was at a different level all season and when you win 66 games and nearly set an NBA-record for home-court dominance…you’re doing something right. Other than that and the fact that he has LeBron, Brown has actually shown a level of competence on the offensive side of the ball. Shocking right? Well…to be honest, just like the Blazers there wasn’t anywhere for Brown to go but up. Three straight years of the ‘here LeBron, take the ball and do you and I’ll just make crazy faces on the sideline’ offense he showcased. And that offense is still around…it’s just a little more subtle….at times. And really his consistent dumb-dumbness on the offensive end was what was keeping him in the ‘bad coach’ category. Now he’s Coach of the Year. Sam Mitchell has one of those too. *shudder*
Onto Nate McMillan. I’m more than ok with Nate finishing fourth. It’s good for him to at least get some (well-deserved) attention and respect after this season. Not enough credit has been thrown his way this year for all he has done. He molded and bended his coaching style to fit this team. He got a young team to buy in, play hard every night, play smart and stay together for a whole year. I credit Nate for this team consistently showing up night-in and night-out. For a young team in progress as they were in October, to steadily improve all year and not take any steps backwards is a huge credit to the coaching staff. Even towards the end of the year they learned the value of kicking the lower-tiered opponents teeth down their throat. Say what you want about the emergence of Brandon Roy and a host of others, but Nate did a lot more than I feel like most people are giving him credit for. He’s handled all of this talent very well and I have no complaints with him as the head coach of this team, not a single one.Very impressive season if you ask me. The homer in me wants to argue that he deserved it more than Van Gundy, but it’s all good in the end. He got more first-place votes than anyone other than Mike Brown so I’ll take solace in that. The media loves the whole ‘Houston held it together without T-Mac’ storyline so of course Adelman got those votes.
Lastly, I’m disgusted that Mike Woodson got equal voting as Phil Jackson. Really? Mike Woodson. I know Phil doesn’t need Coach of the Year and won’t get considered unless he wins 70 games or something, but lets be real people. Mike Woodson and Phil Jackson are on different coaching universes. Also, Vinny Del Negro getting the same amount of first place votes as Phil is laughable. As is Tony DiLeo even getting a vote. He should keep that on his fridge when he goes back to the front offense.