Here's one thing Mike Brown doesn't miss about being the Lakers' coach: the commute.
It was 43 miles from his home in Anaheim Hills to the team's practice facility in El Segundo. Driving time varied greatly depending on traffic and whether basketball operations assistant Kyle Triggs came along, allowing them to use the carpool lane.
"Literally, I could get stuck, especially going home sometimes without having him in the car with me and it would take me two, 21/2 hours," Brown, now coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, recalled Monday afternoon.
Some Lakers fans would have been willing to chauffeur Brown out of town by the end of his year and a half with the team, a stretch that included one brief playoff appearance and a disastrous five-game start to the next season that resulted in his dismissal in November 2012.
He'll return to Staples Center on Tuesday night to face his former team for the first time. Tissues won't be necessary.
"I'm a guy that's able to move on pretty quickly and I'm enjoying the situation I'm in now," said Brown, who is in the first season of his second stint with the Cavaliers.
As he spoke with reporters inside the old men's gymnasium at UCLA, Brown's smile was a little tighter, his laugh a little less hearty than it had been through most of his time with the Lakers.
His return to Cleveland hasn't gone quite as he had hoped, the Cavaliers (13-24) struggling to live up to the expectations of many who had pegged them as a playoff team. They are coming off a 44-point loss to the Sacramento Kings, of all teams, and no longer feature an All-Star center after trading Andrew Bynum because they viewed him as a distraction.
Brown said Bynum did not have one strike against him when he arrived in Cleveland this summer based on previous run-ins during their time together with the Lakers. Brown famously benched Bynum during a loss to Golden State after Bynum took a three-pointer early in the shot clock.
Of course, Brown also benched Kobe Bryant during a loss to Memphis and sparked complaints from Pau Gasol about being played too far from the basket.
"He wasn't the only guy I got into a disagreement with in my time in L.A." Brown said of Bynum, "but obviously that was probably one of the biggest stories."
Brown's Lakers were at the opposite end of the maturity spectrum from his youthful Cavaliers, leading to some unique challenges.
"It matures you," Brown said, "because you're put in a lot of different situations that you may not be put in in Cleveland with an older, veteran team that has experienced winning at a high level and one of the greatest all-time players in Kobe and then Pau and you go down the line. So there's a lot you can learn and grow from and whether it's good, bad, whatever, I felt I learned a lot on the floor and off the floor being here."
Cleveland forward Earl Clark, who also played for Brown with the Lakers, said his coach puts the Cavaliers through longer practices than he did with the Lakers even though he was known as a tireless worker at his former stop.
"Way longer," Clark said of the Cavaliers' practices, "but that's something he's got to do to get through to us, a young team, and I think he's doing a heck of a job."
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