By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown
Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown talks to the team during a time out against the Milwaukee Bucks at Golden 1 Center. After being named NBA Coach of the Month for February, Brown is a front-runner for the NBA’s Coach of the Year Award. Jameel Pugh, OBSERVER

The Sacramento Kings at press time were 9-2 since the NBA All-Star break. Their play continues to open eyes around the league.

“We can all agree that Mike Brown is hands down the Coach of the Year right?” Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James tweeted through his official Legion Hoops account. “He’s got the Kings playing like DAWGS.”

The Kings beat the Lakers three out of four tries this season. Brown coached the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2005 to 2010, coaching James for five of the first seven years of his career.

James’ tweet came after the Kings beat the New York Knicks 122-117 March 9 at Golden 1 Center in a nationally televised game and followed that with a 128-119 victory at Phoenix on March 11.

That victory over the Suns gave the Kings 40 wins, a benchmark they hadn’t reached since 2005-06, the team’s last playoff appearance.

Sacramento Kings All-Star guard De’Aaron Fox
Sacramento Kings All-Star guard De’Aaron Fox pulls up for a jump shot during the Kings’ loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. Despite the loss, the Kings have been at the top of the Pacific Division for most of the season. Fox has been a leading reason for the team’s success. Jameel Pugh, OBSERVER

The milestone was actually predicted in a viral video made by hyped-up fans at the 2022 California Classic Summer League games at Chase Center in San Francisco.

“We’re getting 40 wins this year,” Sean Chew, one of the fans in the video shouted enthusiastically.

The Kings lost a tough battle against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on March 13. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 46 points in the Bucks’ 122-117 victory, at the end of which a melee centered around Antetokounmpo broke out between Brook Lopez of the Bucks and the Kings’ Trey Lyles.

Lopez said Lyles pushed Antetokounmpo when the Bucks star was dribbling out the clock with 15.4 seconds left to play. Lyles said Antetokounmpo intentionally cut him off while dribbling.

Kings coach Mike Brown had the last word.

“I don’t know what happened but we ain’t taking no s—t from nobody,” Brown said following the game. “Trust me on that. And [the players are] all going to have each other’s backs in there.”

The loss pushed Sacramento back into third in the Western Conference after the Kings briefly tied Memphis at No. 2. Still, the Kings are close to sealing a spot in the playoffs and ending their 16-year postseason drought. But Brown talked of greater goals after the practice March 10.

“We want to win a championship just like everybody else,” Brown said.

Tempers flared as players from the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks scuffle
Tempers flared as players from the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks scuffle in the final seconds of their March 13 battle at Golden 1 Center. “I don’t know what happened but we ain’t taking no s—t from nobody,” Kings’ coach Mike Brown said following the game. Jameel Pugh, OBSERVER

Talk around the league is that Brown is a strong candidate for coach of the year. General Manager Monte McNair is getting buzz for executive of the year in the same breath.

Center Domantas Sabonis and point guard De’Aaron Fox were Western Conference all-stars. Keegan Murray, a starter most of the season, is likely to make the all-rookie team.

Thirteen games remain on the schedule after visits to Chicago on March 15 and Brooklyn on March 16. Eight of those games are on the road.

“I think we are going to have the same approach every game. We’re going to play hard,” said second-year point guard Davion Mitchell. “We’re going to play for 48 minutes. No matter who it is, (we) give our all.”