Brown, Warriors fight emotions to beat Grizzlies in Game 4 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Mike Brown’s day started with him being named the next head coach of the Sacramento Kings, and ended with him leading the Warriors to a gritty 101-98 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals while serving as Golden State’s acting head coach.
Just minutes before Steve Kerr’s usual pregame press conference, scheduled for 5:15 p.m. PT ahead of a 7 p.m. PT tip, the Warriors head coach tested positive for COVID-19. It was Brown’s time to step in, something he has plenty of experience doing — both for the Warriors and other franchises in his coaching past.
As Kerr was driving to Chase Center, he called Brown around 4:45 p.m. PT to tell him he wasn’t feeling well and that Brown might have to wear the hat of Warriors head coach again. At 5:15 p.m. PT, Brown found out about Kerr’s positive test result, just as the media did.
“It was an interesting day for me,” Brown said after the win. “You know, obviously everybody knows what’s going on, and so going through that process, while still trying to get ready for the game and then finding out, not only that — I love Draymond, you know, and when he hurts, we all hurt.
“So that was tough on me personally.”
Brown wasn’t the only one dealing with an emotional day from start to finish. The Warriors were hurting as a team, far before they found out they would be without Kerr.
Adreian Payne, Draymond Green’s former Michigan State teammate, was shot and killed early Monday morning in Florida. He was 31 years old.
Green tweeted four broken heart emojis Monday morning, and didn’t take questions from reporters following Game 4. His emotions were seen, felt and heard as he took to the podium, saying that he was going to go home and express himself on his podcast, because as someone who doesn’t like to cry in front of people, he can hit pause while recording and take time to shed tears when needed.
He also announced he and his wife Hazel are going to donate $100,000 to a fund in honor of Adreian.
“I call on my Spartan family, coach [Tom] Izzo, Magic [Johnson], Jaren Jackson, Miles Bridges, Mat Ishbia — all of my Spartan family to come in and let’s do something in honor of Adreian,” Green said. “If that’s naming something on campus after him, if that’s some scholarships for some kids from Dayton … whatever it is, I call on my Spartan family to band together and do something in Adreian’s name.”
And just as he has done so many times throughout his Hall of Fame career, Green made the defensive play of the day to seal the Warriors’ victory.
With just 13 seconds left and the Warriors up by three points, he fought through a Tyus Jones screen and blocked a 3-point attempt by Jackson.
The miss fell in the hands of Steph Curry, who immediately hit two free throws to make it a two-possession game, and later had a special message for his longtime teammate.
“I don’t know what the transcript says, something to the effect of, ‘That’s what you do!’ ” Curry told reporters when asked about the exchange. “Every opportunity we have to appreciate his greatness on that end of the floor, especially at this stage, that’s what it’s all about.”
After Monday night’s Game 4 win, Brown now is a perfect 12-0 in the playoffs when serving as the Warriors’ acting head coach for Kerr. He went 11-0 in the 2016-17 playoffs before Kerr returned from an ailing back issue, and added another tally to the win column five years later, giving the Warriors a crucial three-games-to-one lead over the Grizzlies.
But Brown refused to take credit for the win. He made sure to organically mention assistants Kenny Atkinson, Bruce Fraser, Chris DeMarco, Jama Mahlalela, Dejan Milojevic and more. He wasn’t done there, though. Brown told Green and Andre Iguodala he would be leaning on them, and couldn’t thank those two enough for their even-keel presence and being the voice of leadership in a game where nothing was going right for the Warriors until the final few minutes.
That’s the Warriors’ championship DNA that can’t be seen in a box score, and it has trickled down to younger players as well.
“Those guys stayed steady the whole game,” Brown said. “Andre on the bench obviously and Draymond out on the floor, and we found a way. You can do that when you have Steph Curry and [Jordan Poole] out on the floor.”
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Curry even joked with TNT’s Jared Greenberg that he felt like he and his teammates were traded to the Kings overnight with Brown being named Sacramento’s head coach in the morning, and then stepping in for Kerr the same night. Brown laughed when told of Curry’s comments and said he’s perfectly OK with the jokesters in Golden State’s locker room.
It’s unknown for now just how long he will have to assume Kerr’s role in these playoffs, but he clearly is more than capable with years of being an NBA head coach to his name.
Still, he couldn’t help but send a message his good friend’s way.
“Steve, if you’re watching, get healthy quick,” Brown said with both sincerity and a smile.
The Warriors as an entire organization rode a roller coaster of emotions on Monday, and came out on top finding just enough ways to win. Three down, one to go for a trip to the Western Conference Finals.