Tyronn Lue Fired for Believing He Could Win in Cleveland Without LeBron James

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 25:  Head coach Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks with George Hill #3 Cedi Osman #16 and Tristan Thompson #13 while playing the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on October 25, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 110-103. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Lue was the most successful head coach in team history.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers parted ways with head coach Tyronn Lue on Sunday after the team’s 0-6 start to the season. Lue, who led Cleveland to its only NBA championship (albeit with the help of LeBron James) was the most successful coach in team history (albeit with the help of LeBron James). He departs with a 128-83 record.

Why would the Cavaliers fire a proven head coach at the start of a rebuilding year? According to reports, Lue refused to believe that the team was actually rebuilding. In the Athletic, Joe Vardon writes that Lue and general manager Koby Altman “have been at loggerheads over playing time and the general direction of the team.” Altman wanted to give Cleveland’s younger players more opportunities, but Lue reversed course on that experiment and reinserted his veteran squad members after an 0-3 start. There was a minor hitch in Lue’s plan, however: The Cavs’ veterans aren’t good enough to win either, and they promptly lost the following three games. That was enough for Altman and team owner Dan Gilbert, and Lue was given his marching orders.

Larry Drew, who was an assistant under Lue, has been named as the team’s head coach. According to the Athletic, players are “pissed” about the firing. On Instagram, forward Kevin Love posted a photo of himself and his former coach along with a message of thanks. “You helped me see the big picture,” the caption reads. “Nothing but love and admiration. Know we will work towards something greater together again.

LeBron, whose departure for Los Angeles over the summer left Lue in the lurch with a squad full of Lurches, tweeted his own message of gratitude on Sunday.

The Cavs never had a chance without LeBron, a fact obvious to seemingly everyone but their head coach. Lue’s quixotic quest to win lasted just six games, and Cleveland can now focus on the task at hand: losing correctly.