After time with LeBron, Kobe, Mike Brown breaks down Warriors' All-Stars

After time with LeBron, Kobe, Mike Brown breaks down Warriors' All-Stars

Insofar as he has coached the two most iconic players of the post-Jordan era, I had questions for Mike Brown. And the Warriors assistant, as a guest on the NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Podcast, was kind enough to answer.

Brown spent five seasons as head coach of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, reaching the playoffs all five seasons, once reaching the NBA Finals. Brown was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2008-09, with James winning the MVP award that season and repeating in 2009-10, after which Brown was dismissed and James departed for Miami.

After a year out of the NBA, Brown in 2011 was hired by the Lakers for the monumental task of replacing Phil Jackson and coaching 2007-08 MVP Kobe Bryant. The team was eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals in lockout-shortened 2012, and Brown was fired five games into the following season.

After another turn as Cleveland head coach (2013-14), Brown was out of coaching for two seasons before agreeing to join Steve Kerr’s staff with the Warriors.

Given his experience with James and Bryant, we were compelled to seek Brown’s opinions about Warriors All-Stars Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

Brown on Curry, the reigning two-time MVP: “I don’t know how you guard him. He would put the fear of God in me if I were on another team. He does it all. He can score with the ball. He can score without the ball. He can score from all three levels. His pace is unbelievable. I don’t know if he ever gets tired.”

Brown on Durant, the 2014 MVP: “I don’t know if he likes to be called this, but he’s 7 feet. And if you’re 7 feet and you can handle the ball and shoot the ball the way he does, you can’t guard him. . . . He can post up. He can play pick-and-roll. He can shoot the 3. He can get to the rim. He can get to the free throw line. How do you want it, he can do it. When you couple all that stuff with him being 7 feet, he’s impossible to guard.”

Brown on Thompson: “He’s got the quickest, most highest release that I’ve ever seen when it comes to shooting the basketball. Most guys, you say ‘put it in the shooting pocket,’ which is probably someplace between your belly button and your chest. You don’t say that about Klay. Just, somehow, some way, get him the ball. Wherever he catches the ball, he’s going from that point straight into his shot, Even if the ball hits him about the top of his head. . . . He’s almost impossible to guard. You can’t take away his airspace, because he doesn’t need any airspace to shoot the ball.”

For the record, Brown’s choice for MVP is Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, whose two-way excellence pushed him ahead of the co-favorites, Rockets guard James Harden and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook.

 

Whether Brown or Kerr coach, Warriors sticking to same blueprint

Whether Brown or Kerr coach, Warriors sticking to same blueprint

OAKLAND -- For the first time since he joined the coaching staff last summer, Mike Brown on Wednesday morning arrived at the Warriors facility a man in charge.

As acting head coach, he would decide when practice started and when it ended, and conduct proceedings in between.

The general activity was not much different for anyone else, though, as it continues to become evident that everything the Warriors do for the foreseeable future will be a Brown-Kerr, or Kerr-Brown, production.

“Steve is going to be a part of this process the whole time,” Brown said after practice. “Almost before I do anything, I’m going to consult with him. The only time I won’t consult with him is probably during a game.”

Since Kerr’s announcement last Sunday that he was taking an indefinite leave to attend to personal health issues, Brown has been wielding the clipboard. He actually coached Game 3 against Portland last Saturday, in Kerr’s absence, before knowing in advance he’d also coach Game 4 Monday night.

Brown is 2-0, with the Game 4 win clinching a Warriors sweep of the Trail Blazers. Yet Brown is quick to remind anyone that he is following the plan laid out by Kerr. The two exchanged texts Tuesday and, according to Brown, “spoke at length” after the game between the Jazz and the Clippers -- one of which will face the Warriors in the next round.

Though the Warriors are operating under a different head coach, all indications are the atmosphere around the team remains stable and relatively unchanged.

“Obviously it’s different personalities, but when you make it about the players, when you make it about winning, all that other stuff really doesn’t matter,” Kevin Durant said. “He coaches us. He coaches the game of basketball and he does it very well. Our whole coaching staff does the same thing.

“When it’s about basketball, it’s not about trying to have authority over us. He’s just coaching us. He’s just coaching us up. He’s just telling us the proper way to do things on the basketball court. It’s pretty simple when you try to do that. Then it’s on us to try to execute.”

Execution has gone well, particularly over the last six quarters of the series against Portland. The Warriors wiped out a 16-point deficit in the second half to win Game 3, and then rolled to a 35-9 start in Game 4 before coasting to the closeout victory.

Brown was on the sideline in Game 4, with Kerr watching the game from the locker room.

It’s fairly apparent, though, that everyone involved feels a heightened sense of accountability and ownership.

“Mike has had a pretty big voice throughout the whole season,” Durant said. “He’s been a head coach before, understands what it takes to be a head coach. And the coaching staff is just so smart, and they empower each other.

“Anybody, if you’re around us on a day-to-day basis, anybody can tell that they work well as a group. Coach Kerr does a great job. He spearheads it all by empowering everybody, from the coaches to the players.”

After sweeping Blazers, Warriors relishing some needed down time

After sweeping Blazers, Warriors relishing some needed down time

OAKLAND -- After arriving in Oakland in the wee hours Tuesday morning, the Warriors took the day off, went through a light practice Wednesday and will take another day off Thursday.

Slackers, eh?

Not really, when the next game is at least four days away.

The semi-lax scheduling isn’t the decision of acting head coach Mike Brown. It’s not even the decision of head coach Steve Kerr, who was not at practice Wednesday and remains out indefinitely. It’s a common sense call that was made between the two men, with players and staffers on board.

“If you can sweep every series,” Kevin Durant said after practice, “then that’ll be perfect.”

This is one of the perks of sweeping a first-round opponent. By eliminating the Trail Blazers in four games and with their next opponent undetermined, the Warriors are able to balance work and rest.

“With this group here,” Brown said, “the continuity that the nucleus has and how intelligent the guys are, with the big-time veterans we’ve brought in, we feel that rest for their bodies and mentally (are) more important than coming in here and having practice on a daily basis.”

They also have a couple guys recovering from injuries. Forward Matt Barnes (right foot/ankle bone bruise) has been out two weeks, and guard Shaun Livingston (right index finger sprain/hand contusion) has missed the past nine days. Both, however, are expected to be available for the next series.

The soonest that would be is Sunday against Utah, which owns a 3-2 series lead over the Clippers and can close it out Friday in Salt Lake City. If the Clippers win and push the series to seven games, the Warriors would then open against the Clippers-Jazz winner on May 2.

Meanwhile, the Warriors have no choice but to prepare for both, with plenty of time to do so.