Warriors’ Mike Brown prepares to face close friend Gregg Popovich

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May 13, 2017 - 8:43pm
In 2002, while an assistant coach with the Spurs, Mike Brown was driving his two young sons to the airport when both boys broke down in tears. Before he could finish telling his boss over the phone that he was running late, San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich demanded Brown stay behind for more time with his sons. A few days later, after the Spurs returned home from that game against the Bulls, Popovich reminded Brown to always prioritize family over basketball. [...] in his third week as Golden State’s acting head coach, Brown is preparing to host Popovich’s Spurs in Sunday’s Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. Though the Warriors — who have yet to lose this postseason — are heavily favored in the series, Brown is well-versed enough on the Spurs to not underestimate his next opponent. The one common denominator — from David Robinson to Tim Duncan to Kawhi Leonard — is a sarcastic, fiery intellectual who, if not for a disagreement with the university president nearly three decades ago, might still be coaching at Division III Pomona-Pitzer. Overshadowed by his 1,150 career wins with San Antonio is the role Popovich played in helping bring Brown to Golden State. Last June, after learning that lead assistant Luke Walton would take over the Lakers, Steve Kerr asked his longtime mentor for recommendations. Worried he might need to take another hiatus from the bench to deal with his chronic pain, Kerr wanted someone who could fill in as head coach if necessary. An admitted workaholic, Brown made himself indispensable with color-coded practice plans and exhaustive scouting reports. In 2003, with the 37-year-old Kerr earning mop-up minutes as a reserve guard, the Spurs won their second NBA title in half a decade. Since Brown took over for the ailing Kerr before Game 3 of the first round, the Warriors have won six games by an average of 15.2 points. Western Conference finals

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