Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal reports:

Mike Brown’s firing Monday after compiling a record of 272-138 and leading the Cavs to the league’s best regular-season record each of the past two seasons left many wondering what simmered underneath the surface between James and Brown.

It left me wondering how Brown would answer that ”Isn’t it tough to coach a superstar?” question today.

Before the playoffs, the only public rift this season appeared to come after Brown did not use Zydrunas Ilgauskas on Nov. 28 when the center could have set the team’s franchise record with 724 games played. James spoke out in the aftermath. It had to sting the ever-loyal James that Ilgauskas invited friends and family to Quicken Loans Arena for the occasion that Brown apparently forgot to celebrate.

But Brown helped James elevate his game. Buying into Brown’s defense-first mantra, James was selected to the NBA’s all-defensive first team the past two seasons. Brown convinced James that a chase-down block was just as awe-inspiring as a monster slam.

But many — including President Barack Obama — questioned how much James respected Brown. The coach was tuned out by the media because of his lack of meaty sound bites. Was that the case for the players, too?