Sacramento’s Mike Brown was named the NBA Coach of the Year on Wednesday, becoming the first unanimous winner of the award after guiding the Kings back to the playoffs.
Brown also won the award in 2009 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, guiding a team that won 66 games as LeBron James was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
He was sacked by the Cavs one year later, eventually landing briefly with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In his first year at the helm in Sacramento he turned around a franchise whose 17-year playoff drought was the longest in NBA history and the longest active drought in major US pro sports.
The 53-year-old received 100 out of 100 possible first-placed votes, a first in balloting for the award.
Brown arrived in Sacramento after six seasons as an assistant to Steve Kerr with the Golden State Warriors — just up the road in San Francisco.
“These honors don’t come around often, so you’re very appreciative of them,” Brown said during an interview on broadcaster TNT’s programme announcing the award.
“Inside The NBA” after being named the winner of the award.
Long known for prioritizing defense, Brown developed the young Kings team into an offensive force.
The Kings led the league in scoring with an average of 120.7 points per game in the regular season.
They were second in field goal percentage at 49.4 and third in assists per game at 27.3
Their 48-34 record is an 18-game improvement on last season, when they finished 30-52.
Now the Kings are up 2-0 in their first-round playoff series against the reigning champion Warriors after winning the first two games on their home floor.
Brown claimed the award ahead of Oklahoma City Thunder coach Mark Daigneault, who led his rebuilding club to a 40-42 record and a play-in berth, and Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla.
Mazzulla, at 34 the youngest active head coach in the NBA, led Boston to the second-best record in the NBA after he was thrust into the job days before training camp when Ime Udoka was abruptly suspended for violating team rules.
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