SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – You can add Kings head coach Mike Brown to the scores of Sacramento fans getting caught up in the excitement surrounding the Republic FC.
The reigning NBA’s Coach of the Year and his family were among the 20,231 fans packed into Hughes Stadium on the campus of Sacramento City College on Saturday night, to see the soccer club commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the first USL Pro game played in California’s Capital back in 2014 at the same venue.
The success of the Republic FC this season, sitting atop the Western Conference standings with an overall record of 13-9-4, coupled with the friendship made with the club’s head coach Mark Briggs during his first year in Sacramento, is enough for Brown to come out and support as much as he can.
“The way these guys are playing, man, everybody in Sacramento should be out here,” Brown told FOX40, before turning to the camera to loudly encourage fans at home to support the team. “It shouldn’t be just me and these 20-plus-thousand (fans), you should be here right now! Let’s go Republic!”
Orange County SC would shutout Sacramento 2-0 on Saturday night, but losing the match did little to quell the excitement Brown has for being a member of the Sacramento community. Following the match, he would remain on the field for over an hour, taking pictures with fans, meeting players and catching up with coach Briggs, who took Brown’s invitation to drop by and observe several Kings practices last season.
Brown has officially been the head coach of the Kings for over one year now. A year which included a winning record of 48-34, finishing third in the Western Conference and snapping a 16-season postseason drought, despite falling in Game 7 to the Golden State Warriors in the first-round playoff series.
Following the season’s end, Brown turned his attention to the NBA Draft, free agency and observing Summer League in Sacramento and Las Vegas. On Saturday night during the soccer match, he shared his thoughts about his Kings adding EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov and the trade to bring in Chris Duarte from the Indiana Pacers.
While he likes the pieces the Kings added this summer, Brown is more excited about keeping the core of the team together, which included the resigning of forward Harrison Barnes to run it back with primarily the same core group of players for the upcoming 2023-24 campaign.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how we can handle the pressure,” Brown said. “It’s flipped now. We’re no longer hunting people; people are hunting us. And there are expectations, so how do we handle that? I believe our guys are ready for it, and with the fans that we have here and the juice they brought last year – let’s go. Let’s get it.
“I’m excited for Sasha, I’m excited for Chris Duarte, I’m excited about our young guys. It’s good to have the new guys, but I’m more excited about having our guys to be able to run it back and give them the opportunity to grow as a nucleus than anything else.”
When it comes to Vezenkov, Brown, who went to Greece to visit the former Olympiacos power forward earlier in the year, gushed about the 27-year-old’s attributes, and believes his game will translate just fine to the NBA level.
“Here’s a guy that plays hard, he’s tough (and) very, very smart,” said Brown. “(He’s) extremely good feel for the game of basketball. He can pass it, he cuts, he knows how to space (the floor) and he can shoot the mess out of the ball. He’s got a quick trigger and I’m looking forward to seeing (him) out in action against other teams this year.”
With Duarte, Brown is hopeful that the third-year guard from Oregon can help improve the Kings defense, which ranked 24th in the league in defensive rating last season. He also praised the 6-foot-5 guard’s length and his ability to shoot from the perimeter.
Brown’s passion to be ever-present figure in the community as a new Sacramentan may just equal his desire to be a successful NBA head coach.
At this time last year, Brown was busy getting adjusted to the Kings organization, filling his coaching staff, getting familiar with his players and getting situated in his new El Dorado Hills home. Unlike last year, he is finding time to enjoy the summer months with his family and getting more familiar with the Sacramento region.
Brown admits he is a fan of high school football and has been seen supporting the Oak Ridge Trojans last season. He vows to check out more games in the future, while also looking forward to getting out to Folsom Lake, heading up to Lake Tahoe and looking forward to riding his motorcycle.
With a little more than a month remaining on the calendar before the Kings open training camp, Brown will scratch the basketball itch by rooting for Team Canada in the FIBA World Cup. His associate coach Jordi Fernandez coaches the Canadian team. Brown even got to FaceTime with his assistant who was in Jakarta, Indonesia resting after Canada defeated France, as Brown and Fernandez’s family cheered on the Republic FC at Hughes Stadium.
Last month, Brown told FOX40 that he would like to return to coaching international competition sometime in the future, as he did in the last Summer Olympics with the Nigerian National Team, where Fernandez served as one of his assistant coaches.
Brown talked about his experience with the Nigerian team during his trip with the NBA’s “Basketball Without Borders” trip to South Africa last month, where he was able to coach 80 of the top high school prospects throughout the continent of Africa, as well as assist with a development clinic for local coaches at the American International School of Johannesburg.
The 49ers upcoming season will also capture Brown’s attention. He vows to watch every Niners game this season as his youngest son Cameron was named to Kyle Shanahan’s staff as a defensive quality control coach.
Kings training camp will open Oct. 2 in Sacramento.