How Warriors’ culture remade Mike Brown after three decades in NBA


How Warriors’ culture remade Brown after three decades in NBA originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO – When Sacramento Kings coach Mike Brown took a seat at the podium Sunday before facing the Warriors and said he wanted to address something before taking questions, the room went silent.

Brown’s reputation preceded him when he came to the Warriors six years ago. He was a 46-year-old geek, finicky, obsessive about such tiny details that he has been known to iron dry-cleaned shirts.

What now? What could be wrong? Or simply not right enough?

“This is Year 31 for me in the NBA,” Brown began. “I’ve been around a lot of good people and all that stuff, and I’ve got to give a shout-out to Chef Bert. Chef Bert had a smoothie for me. Had a cookie for me. And I’m extremely excited.”

With tipoff 90 minutes away, Brown actually opened his news conference praising the Warriors’ team chef, Bert Ortiz Jr., for preparing and presenting his favorite smoothie – strawberry, banana, frozen yogurt and a touch of honey.

In 30 seconds, the atmosphere in the room went from attentive sobriety to humanity’s natural intoxicant.

Laughter.

Mike Brown at 52 is a changed man and coach after six years with Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry and the Warriors. Though a bit of Brown’s attention to detail has rubbed off on Kerr, much of Kerr’s devotion to joy rubbed off on Brown. It added dimension to his coaching principles.

“I learned a lot from Steve; I really did,” Brown said. “Obviously, everybody can say when they’re younger and then they get older that they are better. But I feel like I’m 100 percent better coach mainly because of that man. The players have to love to do it, too, because players always teach us something.

“But I learned a lot from Steve. Not just the X’s and O’s part, but the stuff that can’t be measured when it comes to culture and preparation and all that other stuff. But when you talk about just a good human being and a man that treats people the right way, no matter what is going on, what situation is going on. He just he’s just remarkable.”

When Brown was an assistant with the Spurs 20 years ago, there were times when head coach Gregg Popovich lost patience with his meticulous and extended sermons regarding strategy.

When Brown was head coach of the Cavaliers, there were clashes with star LeBron James, who wanted more freedom.

When Brown was head coach of the Lakers, there was friction with star Kobe Bryant and impatience from upper management.

Brown’s six years with the Warriors gave his career new life. It has happened with players who spent time with Golden State, and now it’s happening with a coach.

“When I was younger, one of the things that I always concentrated a lot on was this play and that play, and this defensive scheme and that defensive scheme,” Brown said. “And it’s bigger than that type of stuff.

“If you have talent, they may have a good year, you may win a few games. People may say, ‘Hey, you can coach a little bit.’ But in this business, I truly believe that you want to have a sustained winning culture, and that’s the only way to be able to win at a high level.”

Brown’s time with the Warriors surely was a factor in being hired in Sacramento. Before purchasing the Kings in 2013, CEO Vivek Ranadivé spent three years as a member of Golden State’s ownership group and is seeking a way to emulate the success of his former team.

The influence of the Warriors came from Kerr and Curry and throughout the organization, according to Brown. From CEO Joe Lacob and co-chairman Peter Guber to team president Bob Myers. From veterans such as Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney to Shaun Livingston, who transitioned from player to staff member during Brown’s time.

“I learned so much here,” Brown said. “They embraced me right away. All I have are fond memories here. It was fantastic. I owe them a lot. I thank them for allowing me to be a part.”

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Considering his past head-coaching experience, Brown accepted the job in Sacramento not only because it was available but also because he believes there is a renewed commitment to resurrecting the woebegone franchise.

The Kings have not reached the postseason since 2006 – the longest postseason drought not only in the NBA but all of North American sports. Fans hope Brown’s arrival will bring some of that Golden State magic.

Brown is hoping some of that magic was in his smoothie. Or the cookie.

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Jorge Oliveira

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