Gregg Popovich has faced five NBA coaches in his six appearances in the NBA Finals: Jeff Van Gundy, Byron Scott, Larry Brown, Mike Brown, and Erik Spoelstra.
Larry Brown was the first and only time Pop has faced a coach for which he was an assistant.
Mike Brown was the first and only time he faced one of his former assistants.
Mike Brown served under Pop from 2000 to 2003, picking up a championship ring in 2003 against the New Jersey Nets.
Brown started his coaching career in Washington in 1997 before signing on with the Silver & Black. After his stint in San Antonio, and based on the success the Spurs were displaying, Brown was hired as an associate head coach with the Indiana Pacers under Rick Carlisle. One of the best remembered events during his time in Indiana, the “Malice at the Palace.”
Mike Brown went into the stands to get Ron Artest out of the seats. You can see his escorting Artest through the tunnel toward the end of the video.
After Indiana, Brown got his first head coaching job in Cleveland in 2005. His leader, LeBron James, was the hottest young superstar. He led the James Cavs to the playoffs in his first season. In his second season as head coach, he and the Cavaliers made it to the NBA Finals.
In the end, the Spurs won their fourth title and knocked out the Cavaliers in a four-game sweep.
There was a warm moment after the series between the “aging” Tim Duncan and the young phenom LeBron James.
James, with Mike Brown in the captain’s chair, kept Cleveland in the postseason. Eventually, when they could not replicate their Finals appearance, LeBron made “The Decision” to head to Miami, and Mike Brown left for Los Angeles.
Brown succeeded Phil Jackson in the shortened lockout season. In 2012, the Lakers manned up with a starting five of former All-Stars. Steve Nash and Dwight Howard joined Kobe Bryan, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest).
Due to the aging stars and the injuries plaguing the Lakers, Brown was fired after just five games.
At the end of the season, he was hired back to Cleveland to succeed Byron Scott. Brown stayed only one season before being fired a second time.
In 2016, Brown was brought in to replace Luke Walton as an assistant to Steve Kerr in Golden State. Brown served as an interim head coach while Kerr struggled with back pain. He picked up two more NBA championships with the Warriors in 2017 and 2018.
It was announced in February 2020 that Mike Brown was made the head coach of the Nigerian basketball team.
Next up: P. J. Carlesimo
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