INDEPENDENCE: Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue might have three words to say to his counterpart, Mike Brown of the Golden State Warriors, when they see one another before the start of the NBA Finals on Thursday.
Here’s the cash.
“Mike, I owe him $100 from when I was a rookie,” Lue said Saturday afternoon at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “That’s all I ever know about Mike. I tried to pay him and he wouldn’t take the money so he says I always owe him. He’s always been a great guy.”
So what happened exactly for an NBA assistant coach to get a heads-up on a young player?
“Yeah, he was with the Spurs and I was with the Lakers and we had a little shooting contest and I lost,” Lue said. “He wouldn’t take the money so from now on 19 years in a row he always says, ‘You owe me $100.’ He won’t take the money.”
The bet involved Lue’s ability to shoot and the Cavs coach was clear Brown didn’t beat him in a shooting contest.
“He didn’t beat me,” he said. “I just missed some shots. He didn’t outshoot me, no.”
The timing of the shooting contest might be a little foggy in Lue’s memory. Lue was a rookie with the Lakers in the 1998-99 season and Brown was beginning his professional career with the Washington Wizards.
Brown said he hasn’t forgotten about the wager, though.
“I’m glad he finally admitted that he owes me money because for many years he wouldn’t admit that he owed me money,” Brown said of Lue after the Warriors finished practice on Saturday.
“He does owe me $100, and since he got his new deal hopefully he can afford to pay me now. I asked him many time for it but he’s denied it. He’s denied that the game ever took place.”
Brown said he’s glad Lue is finally prepared to pay off his debt.
“I think what it has to do with, it has to do with the fact he’s got a nice, long, fat contract with the Cavs and he realizes that he can finally afford to pay me the money that he owes me for the shooting game back in 2000 or whenever it was,” Brown said with a grin.
Brown said he doesn’t remember any other details about the wager.
“I don’t even remember,” he said. “That was back when I was in shape and a good shooter. He’d kill me now.”
Friendly wager aside, mutual respect remains.
“[I’ve] always been close to Mike and I like Mike a lot, respect him a lot, had a chance to work his son [Elijah] out a lot at Impact in [Las] Vegas over the summer, so Mike is a good guy and I like and respect him a lot,” Lue said.
And the job Brown is doing with the Warriors as their acting coach with Steve Kerr sidelined for health reasons?
“I haven’t gotten that far yet,” Lue said, “but I know he’s doing a great job.”
Enjoying the ride
The two newest members of the Cavs came to Cleveland well after the season began with one goal — to collect a ring.
Veterans Deron Williams (12 years), who came from the Dallas Mavericks, and Kyle Korver (14 years), who arrived in a trade from the Atlanta Hawks, have never played in the NBA Finals, and Lue is happy to see them finally reach that goal.
“It’s good to see great players like that and players who have been around the league for a long time get a chance to go to the Finals and actually come to our team and want to be a part of it,” Lue said. “And we make it for those guys. So I’m excited they’re going to be there, and you can see those guys being veterans and understanding the game, what we need from those guys and hopefully it shows in the Finals.”
Teammate Richard Jefferson offered some advice. Family and friends, he suggested, should be kept at a distance so the players can focus.
“You’ve worked 14 years and people have supported you so, yes, come to the game,” he said after Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. “But as far as having 10 people in your house, this is a one time when I would tell any human being to be as selfish as you possibly can be …”
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.