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Why the Kings’ Mike Brown looked like the NBA Coach of the Year this weekend

Why the Kings’ Mike Brown looked like the NBA Coach of the Year this weekend

Sacramento, California – The message worked.

Kings coach Mike Brown made this calculated choice to check out the Cinderella team Thursday night, highlighting all the things the team did wrong on that nationally televised night against the Knicks that went right. He was emotional. it was pointed. He was angry.

If all you heard were those 14 minutes of scathing analysis on his Beam team, you’d never know that the Kings painted the sky purple for the 39th time in 65 attempts that night. The Browns shared his frustration over the 23 offensive rebounds they gave up, saying his players should be “awkward.” He called on the All-Stars, Domantas Sabonis and Diaron Fox, to “open their mouths and keep their teammates on a high level.” For all the focus on these Kings being on their way to breaking the league’s longest running drought in 16 years, and with a game in Phoenix looming two nights later, he shared a harsh truth about what might happen when they take on the league’s elite.

“If we don’t fix (what’s bothering them), we’re going to get the ass off at game time,” Brown said. “That’s when the big boys show up. … Going to Phoenix—I don’t care what the score is at the end of the game—(but) let’s hit somebody and keep them out of the glass.”

Sure enough, they did just that on Saturday night. The Suns, who came into play averaging nearly 12 offensive boards and rated Seventh in the league In that category, he finished with only seven in the 128-119 loss to Sacramento. The Kings, who have won eight of their nine games since the All-Star break and are tied for second in the West, now have 40 wins (vs. 26 losses) for the first time since the 2005-06 season when they reached the postseason. And Brown, who became the Kings’ 13th head coach since that season when he was hired away from Golden State last summer, has shown once again why he deserves to be this season’s coach of the year.

Even if he didn’t even want the prize.

Back in mid-January, when the Kings were over .500 and Brown’s name was starting to pop up in the COY discussion, he reminded me that this honor wasn’t a harbinger of good fortune when he won it again in 2009. This was during his first run as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers , when he was partnered with youngster LeBron James and his 66-win campaign led to him winning the award.

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Less than a year later, after they fell in the East Finals in 2009 and the Eastern Semifinals in 2009, he was fired by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. He’s not going to be fired anytime soon in Sacramento, of course, but you get the point.

However, as Brown discussed when he first took over the Kings job, the Cavs experience was one of many he believes contributed to turning him into the coach he is now. Along the way—from his time as an assistant at Washington, San Antonio, Indiana, and Golden State to head coaching jobs with Cleveland (twice), the Lakers, and those Kings—he’s been growing in the same ways that brought him to this impressive point. More specifically, it was his time with the Tottenham (Greg Popovich) and Warriors (Steve Kerr) that taught him the most about “emotional intelligence.”

In addition to all the X and O knowledge that is vital to these jobs, it’s hard to be a great coach in this league if you can’t find a way to communicate with your players as human beings. The emotional quotient – that is, the EQ – is extremely important when it comes to sustained communication that occurs over the course of a seven-month regular season. And for all of the Browns’ past accomplishments, even he will admit he had a team — a Lakers team led by Kobe Bryant, more than any other — where a breakaway on that front played a role in his eventual downfall.

So when he decided to play hard for the Kings after the win over the Knicks, given the calculated risk that would later lead to a win in Phoenix, it was fair to wonder if he had inspired enough confidence and confidence inside the locker room of Yes. approach to be effective. Besides, I was curious how Brown handled his message to his team before that press conference in which he didn’t pull any punches in public. As it turns out, Kings sixth man Malik Monk was kind enough to provide the kinds of answers that would make all Kings fans who believe in Beam feel better. If this is possible at this point.

On the question of whether Brown shared his criticisms privately before he did so publicly—thus avoiding the kind of tactic that hasn’t sat well with players since basketball’s earliest times—Monk said that certainly was the case.

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“Yeah, he came over here and said (the game) was awful,” Monk said. the athlete. “Same message (as his press conference). It was terrible. We gave up 23 offensive rebounds. And s-, I agree with him.”

It’s not like Brown was exaggerating the absurdity of that particular law, by the way. According to Stathead.com, this was just a file Ten times all season That a team has grabbed too many offensive boards in a game.

Monk continued, “What he said was that it was nice to win, but that’s not winning in basketball.” And I agree with him. Everyone heard it because we all want the same goal, man, which is to get to the playoffs and go deep into the playoffs and try to win them. And giving up 23 offensive rebounds isn’t going to do you any good.

“So he had to get that message across. … That’s why we’re in the situation we’re in right now, because he wants us to be perfect. He knows we can’t be perfect, but he wants us to be perfect. So I think that’s why we’re so successful.” Now. He pushes us, and he comes in and tells us this was bulls–.You’d think we were lost if you heard what was going on, but he only wants the best for us, man. Like I said, he wants us to be whole in a world that’s not perfect.

“So kudos to Mike, man.”

As player endorsements go, it doesn’t get much stronger than that. Considering Monk is widely known as Fox’s closest friend on the team, dating back to his Kentucky days, and the summer get-together kicked off with Fox recruiting his former Wildcat teammate in free agency, he qualifies as a pulse-of-the-kind team. from the statement.

The next day in training, Fox and Sabonis were fully supportive of Brown’s letter drive as well. As Kings first-year guard Kevin Huerter said on game night, there is a commitment to accountability with this group that helps them all reach their full potential.

“Absolutely,” Huerter said when asked if this was the most responsible team he’s been on in his five seasons. “Now, that’s the culture. There are no excuses. It was probably a shock the first month or two of the season, and then that’s how he coaches. He’s going to stay with us, we’ll get better throughout the year, and he makes sure we keep learning and improving. We still are.” Young team, and now that’s the expectation. We know what our days are like, what our schedules are like, what a movie session is going to be like, and we know when – for lack of a better word – we know when we’re ahead. But yeah, he’ll let us know.”

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As Hutter points out, you can’t gain credibility with the players unless you show a willingness to get tough with the big guys as well.

“It has been really since the beginning of training camp,” he said. “He plays on Fox and Domas just like (rookie guard) Keon (Ellis) and Neme (second-year center Neemias Queta) come in. There’s a one-to-15 or 17 accountability, so (with) everyone else I think there’s a group buy-in.” When you see that…we’re not two seeds in the West because Mike tells us how great we are every single day, so keep trying to get better.”

It will be interesting to see where Kings can go from here. Their offense (a league-best 118.7 points per 100 possessions) is historic. Their defense (25th in points allowed per 100) remains a major issue, but it’s worth noting that they have the league Third best net rating since January 9 (5.6, behind Milwaukee and Cleveland) and 20-8 in that period. Their next test comes against Milwaukee on Monday night, where Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo will be hoping to play after missing Saturday’s game against Golden State due to a soreness in his right hand.

But in relation to that night against the Knicks, and the deeper meaning of all that I asked the Browns to discuss in the video below, there was no better sign of the impact he had on the Kings than what Fox said during his briefing. This was after the Browns torched his team inside the locker room, mind you, and before that crucial message was shared with the media fans.

“What Mike came here and (did), and what he said even before the season started, he instilled confidence in us,” he said. Fox said. “Hell, it might make you think you’re better than me. That’s what it is, so every night we go out there expecting to win.”

The message has already succeeded.

(Top photo: Harry How/Getty Images)