By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
The Sacramento Kings last month made Mike Brown the 28th head coach of a franchise that hasn’t made a National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs appearance since the 2005-06 season.
A turnaround won’t happen overnight, but Brown said he is intent on leading Sacramento’s only major professional sports team to respectability – something 11 coaches failed to do in the last 16 years, which is an NBA record.
Brown, who spent the past six seasons as lead assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, was formally introduced by Kings general manager Monte McNair on June 21 at Golden 1 Center.
“I’m not coming here to have fun and embrace the moment. I’m here to win, first and foremost, and I am going to embrace that,” Brown said. “We are going to embrace that. It’s about winning, and when you taste that … it’s addicting and I want more of it.”
Brown is partially responsible for helping the Warriors beat the Boston Celtics 4-2 in the best-of-seven NBA Finals for their fourth title in eight years under head coach Steve Kerr. Winning has been contagious and joyful for Bay Area fans.
Brown was the Cleveland Cavaliers’ head coach for five seasons, reaching the 2007 NBA Finals with LeBron James. Brown was fired after 2009-10.
Brown returned to Cleveland for the 2013-14 season but was let go before James’ return from a four-season stint with the Miami Heat. Brown went on to coach the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. They had a 41-25 record his first season, but he was dismissed following a 1-4 start to 2012-13.
Now Brown has to figure out how to inject a winning culture into an organization thirsty for the days of old. The Kings finished 30-52 this past season. Luke Walton was fired after a 6-11 start and Alvin Gentry completed the season as interim head coach.
Brown is McNair’s first head-coach hire since he became GM before the 2020-21 season.
“We did a lot of research that came down to three things for us: experience – successful head-coaching experience; relationships – ability to build relationships across the organization; and leadership – leadership as a head coach and leadership for everything that we are doing here,” McNair said. “Coach Brown’s pedigree stood out. We are extremely excited to bring him aboard.”
Rick Adelman was the head coach the last time the Kings made the playoffs. The team finished the 2005-06 regular season 44-38 and lost a best-of-seven to the San Antonio Spurs 4-2 in the first round.
No coach has come close to Adelman’s accomplishments in Sacramento. He roamed the sidelines for 624 contests, which makes him the organization’s leader in regular-season games coached. He leads in victories (395), playoff games coached (69), and postseason wins (34).
The Kings have won 336 games and lost 799 in the last 16 years. Brown, as a new coach should, believes the franchise still is alive and kicking.
“Every organization out there has a soul. The stronger that soul is, the better that organization will be,” Brown said. “Having a strong soul equates to having a winning culture.”