OAKLAND -- The teacher remains the teacher.
Warriors fill-in head coach Mike Brown is very familiar with the man sitting opposite the chess board from him in Golden State’s second round playoff matchup against the Utah Jazz. Brown hired Jazz frontman Quin Snyder as an assistant in 2011 when he was coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The two weren’t together long. The lockout wiped out all but 66 games of the 2011-12 season, but the duo spent plenty of time talking hoops during the layoff.
“It was a privilege working with him,” Snyder said. “At that point, the opportunity he gave me was one that was a terrific opportunity.”
Snyder left before the start of the 2012-13 season. Brown lasted just five games into the year before he was relieved of his duties. It was a brief moment of time, but both men spoke highly of each other before game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals game on Tuesday evening.
“He’s one of the best human beings that I’ve been around,” Snyder said of Brown. “It was a privilege and a pleasure to work for him. That year for me was a year full of growth, and it was a very rewarding year.”
Brown has been in and out of the league since their time in LA. He coached Cleveland during the 2013-14 before stepping away from the NBA for two years. He joined Steve Kerr’s staff during the summer to replace the departed Luke Walton. With Kerr ailing, Brown stepped in to run the Warriors on temporary basis.
Snyder took over the helm of the Jazz before the 2014-15 season. He’s quickly built a winner in year three, leading Utah to a 51-win season and their first playoff series win since 2010.
“He’s a great communicator, that was something that working with him, even when he was an assistant coach, you can pick up on very easily,” Brown said. “Just being around him - his demeanor’s great. Guys are drawn to him and then he knows his stuff.”
A disciple of the great Mike Krzyzewski, Snyder has his players all going the same direction. He is a players coach with a bright future ahead of him.
“Guys all seem to want to play for one another and all that usually comes from the foundation that the coach lays, especially if he’s got the right group of guys,” Brown said. “So I’ve got nothing but the utmost respect for Quin.”
The Warriors jumped all over the upstart Jazz early in the game. Snyder’s Utah team stayed close through the third quarter, but in the end, Golden State ran away with the 106-94 victory.
Brown has the advantage of coaching a team that’s made two straight Finals appearances, including an NBA Championship win in 2015. His club is favored to take home another ring this season and in the series opener, he pushed all the right buttons.
Snyder’s group is learning on the fly. They kept attacking the Warriors from start to finish, but winning a game at Oracle Arena is going to be a tall task.
Game 1 goes to the mentor. Snyder will need to be a quick study if he hopes to best Brown and avoid an early exit in Round Two.