Kyrie praises Fox's evolution, gives credit to Brown's impact


SACRAMENTO -- The Mike Brown effect goes beyond the x’s and o’s of the game of basketball.

He joined a Kings organization that hadn’t made a playoff appearance in an NBA-record 16 seasons. New coach. New team. New culture. No one knew what to expect, but the results thus far have been nothing short of inspiring. 

A 31-24 record, good enough for third in a Western Conference that's more stacked now than when Brown arrived. Two NBA All-Stars, one for the first time in his career. A revamped culture that makes basketball in the 916 fun again. A team that has turned into a family. 

NBA star guard Kyrie Irving, who was traded to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, knows a thing or two about the Brown effect. After the Mavs’ 122-114 win over the Kings on Friday night at Golden 1 Center, Irving reflected on the job Brown has done so far in Sacramento. 

“It shows you a team that’s really bought into their leadership,” Irving told reporters postgame. “Mike has seen championship-caliber teams and been on championship teams, so he’s coached great players and been around great players. I would want to be around somebody like that, too. 

"A coach that can echo some of the things that I need to hear as a player and hold me accountable. Mike does a great job at doing that.”

Before he was head coach of the Kings, Brown was coaching up LeBron James and Irving out in Cleveland with the Cavaliers. He also has coached players like Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. 

His first NBA coaching gig was with legendary San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in 2003, when the Spurs won it all that year. 

The resume speaks for itself, but Brown speaks, too. 

His vocal leadership has been key for a young team with little to no championship experience. He’ll never fail to call a timeout mid-game to teach a lesson. Even if the Kings are winning by 30, Brown won’t let an opportunity to coach -- to really coach -- go to waste. 

Like in Cleveland, Irving sees Brown’s efforts impacting De’Aaron Fox in the best way possible. 

“You see De’Aaron Fox getting incredibly better,” Irving said. “He just plays with a poise and a pace that I think we haven’t seen from him in the last few years, and I think that has a lot to do with Mike but also De’Aaron’s hard work …  It’s great to see.” 

Brown said in December that at the beginning of the season, he was especially hard on Fox. Not only was he impressed with the result, but he was impressed with how well Fox received his coaching. 

That’s not always the case with star athletes, but Fox’s willingness to always listen reminded Brown of a Hall of Fame coach-player duo back in San Antonio. 

“It really reminded me of [Gregg Popovich] back in the day coaching Tim [Duncan], and Tim allowing him to be coached a certain way," Brown said. "That’s why that franchise [San Antonio Spurs] and those players are great. Because they laid a foundation of leadership in that locker room that wasn’t just on Pop.” 

The result is the first All-Star nod of Fox's career, although many will agree that the it should’ve happened earlier.

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But Irving has noticed the steady yet big strides Fox has made over the years.

“I think his work is carrying him forward now,” Irving said. “I know he started lifting before games and after games and doing the little things. And I know once one of the young guys or a few of the young guys start catching on to that, I know they really, really want to be great. They ask questions and they’re reaching out to you or they want to know, ‘What did you do? What was your journey like?’ And you’re sharing it with them and they implement it in their game, and you start to see them succeed beyond some of their goals.

“It’s just nothing but a proud moment as a big brother. So I've just watched De’Aaron from afar, but I observe a lot of the players in our league and what they do to prepare themselves every single night, and you can tell the difference between those that do it and those that don’t.”

The Mike Brown impact has one ultimate goal: helping the Kings make a postseason run. Luckily for Sacramento, it’s not a foreign concept to the coach. 

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