By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
INDEPENDENCE: When the Cavaliers assembled in Las Vegas for their first summer league practice three months ago, Mike Brown lined the players up along the baseline for three hours and taught defensive principles.
As the players gathered Tuesday morning for the opening of training camp, Brown went easy on them.
“It wasn’t quite three hours,” Brown joked, “but they probably could’ve watched a nice feature-length movie.”
Brown and his defensive ways officially returned to the Cavs’ organization Tuesday with the start of training camp. Nearly the entire morning session was devoted to defense and more of the same was expected for the night session, although Brown said they would install a couple of offensive sets during the second practice, “so we can have something to defend.”
After finishing as the worst defensive team in the league last season, everyone inside Cleveland Clinic Courts understands why Brown is devoting so much time to defense. The trash cans from the Camp Scott days were not visible when reporters were allowed into the gym.
The players had a fitness test they had to pass in order to practice, but the grueling, physical ways of Byron Scott’s training camps have been replaced by Brown’s cerebral defensive lessons.
“They probably don’t remember half the stuff we threw at them because we threw a lot at them,” said Brown, who wants his players to embrace being uncomfortable. That’s why he made them stand for much of the instructional time, so they got used to the sore legs and aching feet. “It’s like when you’re in the classroom and you’re hearing a lecture. Whether you’re tired or not you eventually fall asleep because you’re sitting down. Tough part about it is they had no chairs, so they had to somehow, someway try to fight to stay upright.”
Earl Clark was in Los Angeles for Brown’s training camp last year with the Lakers. That was obviously a much more veteran team than this one, but Clark still saw similarities between the two.
“I think he’s more detailed now, more strict,” Clark said. “He’s not letting anything go by without getting done right.”
Despite flirting with the idea last season, the Cavs did not bid on the 2016 All-Star Game, which was instead awarded to Toronto this week. The team remains interested in bringing the game back to Cleveland, however, and could eventually submit a proposal for either the 2017 or 2018 game.
Adam Silver, who takes over as NBA commissioner in four months, visited Cleveland in February to explore the feasibility of returning the game here for the first time since 1997. Silver left impressed and encouraged the team to submit a proposal for a future game.
“We had a great experience when we were there in ’97,” Silver said at last season’s All-Star Game in Houston. “We would love to return to Cleveland.”
At that time, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert told the Beacon Journal he was eager to bid, but not before the city was ready.
All-Star weekend has changed dramatically since it was last in Cleveland and the league now requires about 6,000 hotel rooms to host the event. Not all 6,000 need to be downtown because the league has complex parameters within that figure, meaning a certain amount of rooms need to be within a certain distance to the arena. More hotels can be a little farther away.
Whether or not Cleveland has enough hotel space to support the event has been a long-running debate, but the opening of the new Aloft hotel in the Flats and ideas for more hotels, such as a massive 650-room hotel attached to the new convention center, would certainly help Cleveland’s chances.
One reason Houston won the bid for last season’s All-Star Game, according to this Forbes article, was because of three major hotels close to the arena, including one attached to its convention center.
Gilbert said in February he wanted to have the second phase of his casino open before bringing in the All-Star Game. Likewise, there are multiple ongoing revitalization projects downtown that the team would like completed before the eyes of basketball are on the city.
The league awarded the 2015 game to New York only a few days before giving the ’16 game to Toronto. Next year’s All-Star Game will be held in New Orleans.
The Cavs will hold two-a-day workouts today and Thursday, then practice once Friday before Saturday’s Wine & Gold intrasquad scrimmage.
The scrimmage is closed to the public and open only to active military members and their families. Fans can watch a live stream of the game on cavs.com.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.