Browns defensive end Robaire Smith is confident Michigan State coach Tom Izzo can make the transition to the NBA if he accepts an offer to become coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
An MSU product, Smith said he has known Izzo since his freshman year in East Lansing in 1996. Smith's brother Antonio started at forward for Izzo in 1998-99, when the Spartans reached their first Final Four in 20 years.
That started a run of six Final Four appearances in 12 seasons for Izzo, now being courted by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to make the jump to the pros.
Asked Friday if he can see Izzo's style working in the NBA, Smith said, ''Without a doubt.''
''Izzo first of all is a good guy, he's a people person,'' Smith said after the Browns' finished a mandatory minicamp practice. ''He doesn't have a big ego, he doesn't mind listening to his players. He's never minded that from the time I've known him, since back in '96-97. But at the same time he knows how to put his foot down and have things done his way.
''I don't feel like it would be hard for him at all. It's all about where he's at in his career, what he wants do to. I'm pretty sure there's a lot of coaches at the college level who could come in here and be like a mastermind and teach the game.''
But Smith knows Izzo faces a tough decision.
''They've probably got a big thing: Why would you want to leave when your team is going to be at the worst right back in the Final Four?'' he said of Izzo and his family.
Smith said he can't text Izzo to let him know how he feels and didn't divulge what his advice to the coach would be.
Asked if he's praying Izzo stays in East Lansing, Smith said, ''I'm praying. It depends on the opportunity. If it's going to be a good situation for him and his family, all my blessings go to him.''
But as he walked away, Smith seemed to hint that he'd like to see a matchup of Izzo and Cavs' free agent superstar LeBron James.
''King is, King is, King Is,'' Smith chanted.
Since Smith had referred to Izzo as ''Iz'' earlier in the conversation, it's possible he meant ''King Iz.''
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