Brown thanks Cavaliers for past 5 years

Mike Brown took the high road out of town.

Fired by Cleveland after winning 127 regular-season games the

past two seasons but not an NBA title, Brown called his five years

with the Cavaliers an “exceptional experience.”

Brown, who had not publicly commented since his dismissal,

issued a statement through the Cavs on Wednesday in which he

thanked his team, general manager Danny Ferry and owner Dan Gilbert

for the opportunity to coach in Cleveland. The 40-year-old Brown

was fired in the aftermath of a second-round playoff collapse to

Boston.

“The past 5 years have been an exceptional experience,” Brown

said. “I have been very fortunate to lead a group of men who I

respect and thoroughly enjoyed coaching on a daily basis. At the

same time, I was able to work alongside a terrific coaching staff

and with Danny Ferry and a basketball operations team, all of whom

I have a profound respect for.

“We partnered in creating a culture and a standard that I am,

and will continue to be, very proud of. None of which would be

possible without the dedication and support of Dan Gilbert. I am

thankful for the opportunity that he gave to me and my family. We

have a deep appreciation for Northeast Ohio, the Cleveland

Cavaliers organization, and the people in this community, and have

enjoyed making this our home.”

Brown was selected NBA coach of the year in 2009. He took

Cleveland to its only NBA finals appearance in 2007 and to the

postseason every year. However, despite having the league’s best

record for the second straight season and two-time MVP LeBron

James, the Cavs flamed out against the Celtics. Boston overcame a

2-1 deficit and won the final three games to take the best-of-seven

series.

Cleveland lost its last two home games by a combined 50 points,

including a 32-point drubbing in Game 5. It may have been the final

home game for James, who is eligible for free agency in July and is

expected to consider offers from other teams.

James was openly critical of Brown’s strategies during the

playoffs and did not offer his support for Brown after the coach

was fired.

Brown, who previously worked as an assistant in Washington, San

Antonio and Indiana, could end up with one of the five other teams

with head coaching vacancies.