CLEVELAND - Cleveland sports have officially entered a time machine - at least that's what their recent coaching hires suggest.
With the Cavaliers re-hiring Mike Brown as head coach Wednesday, Cleveland's last two coaching selections are very familiar faces, both of whom were willingly let go.
New Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski was replaced as Browns' offensive coordinator after the 2008 season when the team fired head coach Romeo Crennel. Chud's offense was strong in 2007, a top 10 unit led by Derek Anderson, but took a major step backward the next season.
Brown was fired as Cavs' head coach after five seasons, in 2010, following a conference semifinals exit at the hands of the Celtics. Winning in the regular season was never a problem for Brown but his teams never translated that to a title. In one Finals appearance in 2007, his Cavs were swept by the Spurs.
Under Browns, the Cavs became the only team in NBA history to win 60-plus games in consecutive seasons and not win a title - a dubious distinction.
Let's make this clear - neither Chudzinski or Brown were poached from Cleveland. Both men were kicked out of town because they did not do a good enough job - at least according to their bosses at the time.
New front offices are in place now but what about these coaches is different? Chudzinski has never been a head coach before, so there's a possibility he could thrive in this larger role. Brown, however, has led teams and failed at the ultimate goal - winning a title.
Were there better options than Brown on paper? Probably not. But he couldn't win a title with James in Cleveland or Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. Brown's Cavs went into the postseason as favorites and got bounced as disappointments.
It was title or bust in those years with James and Brown only achieved one conference championship, falling short of most everyone's expectations.
This time, Brown will have to try to do it without LeBron (unless you're one of those people who believe James is coming back in the summer of 2014).
For now, the Cavs have a promising talent in Kyrie Irving, a group of young players with potential and two first round picks in this year's draft.
However, Brown doesn't have LeBron or Kobe. Does it say something about two championship-winning all-time greats that they couldn't win a title with Brown or the coach himself?
That one should be easy to answer.
By no means is Mike Brown a bad coach. He has winning percentages of .653 in the regular season and .566 in the playoffs. The Cavs could have done worse - much worse - in fact. He is experienced and you know what you're getting.
It's undeniable that Brown's teams excel on defense, which the Cavs did not under Byron Scott. The major question is whether Brown can consistently coach a successful offense. His 2009-10 Cavs were 6th in the league in offensive rating. However, that group's pace ranked 25th out of 30, which led to the gripes of stagnancy. With the Lakers, his Princeton offense was a total bust and a main reason he lost the job.
If you wanted the defensive version of Mike D'Antoni, a coach who is proficient on one side of the ball, can get you to the playoffs but just can't get past that precipice to greatness, then you will probably be happy with the return of Brown.
Cleveland, for better or worse, tends to sometimes live in the past with its sports teams. It's understandable considering the record of the Browns since their return in 1999 and the recent struggles of the Cavs and Indians.
The glory days of the Indians in the 90s, the sellouts at "The Jake," are held in such nostalgic lore you wonder if some wouldn't mind Omar Vizquel or Kenny Lofton, now in their 40s, suiting up again.
Many still hate James and couldn't bear to see him win a title in Miami, so much so that "Cavs for Mavs" and "OKCle" movements gained traction during the past two NBA finals, fans rooting vicariously through the Western Conference representative's attempt to thwart James.
This latest round of coaching hires, an all too common carousel in this city, would all be incredibly awesome - if we were living in 2007, when Brown's Cavs were in the Finals, Chud's offense was top notch as the Browns won 10 games and Francona, in Boston, led the Red Sox to a second World Series in four seasons.
Since we're talking about going back in time, think about what Doc says in ‘Back to the Future: Part II' after Marty asks him what his future will bring: "No one should know too much about their destiny."
Maybe Brown can exceed expectations this time with Kyrie as his star. Or Chud can elevate Brandon Weeden's game as he did Derek Anderson's at one time. Or Francona can recreate the curse-ending magic he conjured in Beantown.
None of us know if these fantasies can
become Cleveland realities. So, for now? May as well just hop in the time machine, get your seatbelt on and party like it's 2007.