Last season opener, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was unable to man the sideline as he recovered from back surgery.
That left then-assistant Luke Walton at the helm. Walton led the team to a 24-0 start, which — in part — earned him the head coaching gig for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kerr filled that vacancy with Mike Brown, former head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lakers.
Kerr’s use of assistants has evolved over the years: A few years ago, Alvin Gentry took over the offense, and Ron Adams served as a so-called defensive coordinator. Now, Brown fills in and helps where he can.
“Now that we’re two years in, we really have established our style and who we are,” Kerr explained before the game on Tuesday. “So it’s more about Mike sort of adapting to us, rather than vice-versa.”
Kerr’s early progress report is positive as he’s helped tweak the Dubs’ offensive systems.
Brown’s role was a little different when he worked for Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs in the early 2000s.
“He kept [former Spurs and Warriors swingman] Stephen Jackson away from me, because I did not want to talk to him,” Popovich joked.
Once Pop removed his tongue from his cheek, he admitted that Brown has a mind for basketball and will be a great addition to Kerr’s staff. That is, only after letting slip that Brown will regularly have “17 options for one play, and 14 of them don’t work, so Steve will have to figure out which one works and grab that and add it to the system.”
Popovich and Brown coached Kerr during the Warriors coach’s final playing days. When Kerr was vetting possible replacements for Walton, Popovich reiterated his belief in Brown as a worthy addition to any staff.
So Brown was introduced over the offseason and will be expected to help with finding the elusive winning combinations to help the Dubs maintain scoring while Stephen Curry rests.
Despite everything he’d said earlier about helping his former study during the offseason, Popovich reverted a few minutes later to his default mode: cracking jokes.
“I hate Steve Kerr,” he said. “If he asks me anything, I tell him to go urinate in a bucket. You can quote me on that.”
Because when it comes to coaching and answering questions, in the NBA, there’s no one better than Pop.