Mike Brown will get to take a bow in front of his former fans Sunday night when the ex-assistant coach for the NBA title-winning Golden State Warriors leads his new team, the Sacramento Kings, into San Francisco to duel the reigning champs.
Brown spent the past six seasons as Steve Kerr’s chief assistant, helping guide Golden State to championships in 2017 and 2018 before last season’s NBA Finals triumph over the Boston Celtics.
Brown hadn’t even experienced the Warriors’ championship parade in June before he was named head coach of the Kings, who had fired Luke Walton early in the season and then did not retain interim replacement Alvin Gentry after the club completed its 16th straight season without a playoff berth.
The Kings have yet to win for Brown, dropping tight decisions at home to the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers. The latter occurred on Saturday night, 111-109.
Brown, who previously served as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers, knew it wouldn’t be easy reversing the fortunes of Northern California’s “other” team. So he spent much of his summer trying to connect with Sacramento’s key players, including De’Aaron Fox.
“Let’s get to know one another,” Brown said of the plan. “Let’s establish a relationship, because in any business and in life in general, it’s about relationships. It’s establishing a foundation with somebody and mutual respect.”
Kerr knew he was losing a good one when Brown announced his intention to become a head coach again.
“What Mike has done for me, for this organization in his six years here … just an incredible contribution,” Kerr said. “He’s an amazing coach, amazing friend, and Sacramento made a great choice.”
The first of four matchups between Brown and Kerr this season will serve as a head-to-head between two of the league’s fastest starters.
Fox followed a 33-point outing in Sacramento’s opening 115-108 loss to Portland with a 36-point surge in Saturday’s setback.
The 69 points surpass the total of Warriors star Stephen Curry through his first two games. He went from 33 in the opener — a 123-109 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers — to 34 in a 128-123 home defeat to the Denver Nuggets on Friday.
Fox and Curry have gone head-to-head just six times in their careers, with the Warriors prevailing on all six occasions. Curry has outscored Fox in all six, including 27-17 the only time they faced off last season.
Golden State swept the season series 4-0.
Both teams are coming off losses, and each is hoping for bigger and better things from a key player.
Domantas Sabonis, who averaged 18.9 points and 12.3 rebounds in 15 games after joining the Kings in a trade from the Indiana Pacers last February, has struggled slightly this season. After being held to 13 points and four rebounds by the Trail Blazers, Sabonis barely managed his first double-double of the new season with 11 points and 10 rebounds against the Clippers.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have gotten a total of just 19 points and two 3-pointers from Jordan Poole, who signed a four-year, $123 million contract extension on the eve of the season.