Mike Brown credits LeBron James

Updated: January 19, 2012, 3:46 PM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

MIAMI, Fla. -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown spent more than a decade toiling as a video coordinator, scout and assistant coach before getting his first big break from the Cleveland Cavaliers when he was hired as the head guy in 2005.

That first job might have come from all his hard work before it, but Brown credits his second head coaching job with the Lakers to one man: LeBron James.

"I had a great time coaching LeBron and I wouldn't be in this seat if it wasn't for him," Brown said after the Lakers shootaround Thursday in preparation for their game against the Miami Heat.

James was sent home from the Heat's morning shootaround with flulike symptoms, but Brown expects his former player to suit up.

"I think if he has the flu, if he's a little under the weather. I think he'll play because he's a great player and that's what great players do," Brown said. "When you talk about great players like him, those guys, even when they're sick or a little injured, they find a way to perform at a high level and I don't think it's any different for LeBron, who is a great player. ... The flu, the stomachache, dizziness, however you want to call it, it doesn't affect great players like it does the average human being. I don't expect anything different from him tonight."

Lakers starting small forward Matt Barnes, who will be charged with guarding James along with Metta World Peace, echoed Brown's status report for James.

"He's going to play," Barnes said. "I'm going to guard him and I've been taking my Airborne (supplement) because my kids are sick anyway, so I'm ready."

Brown said he has not had any communication with James leading up to the game, and wouldn't predict whether he would have any interaction with the two-time MVP when he was asked if he "expected" to talk to James at American Airlines Arena Thursday night.

"I don't expect anything," Brown said. "I expect he's going to play and I'm going to coach."

After spending five seasons seeing James tear up opposing defenses when they were on the same side in Cleveland, Brown does not believe his experience with James will give him an advantage when coaching against him.

"He's a great player," Brown said. "You don't have advantages against great players."

Brown and James reached the Finals together with the Cavaliers in 2007, but fizzled out of the playoffs in 2009 and 2010 after winning 60-plus games in the regular season. In the fallout, Brown was fired and James eventually bolted for Miami.

Brown was asked to reflect on his experience with the Cavs and explain what went wrong.

"I had a great time in Cleveland," Brown said. "The fans were great. When I think about Cleveland, I think about one thing right now that's a constant: How am I going to unload my house that I have there still that's for sale? Other than that, I don't really think much about my time out there."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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