SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — As the 2021 Summer Olympics approach, many would be surprised to find out that the Golden State Warriors have ties to a team halfway around the world.
Associate Head Coach Mike Brown has two decades of NBA experience, but he recently took on a new role as an international head coach.
“I feel fortunate, blessed, lucky however you want to call it to be able to coach some great players from Tim Duncan to David Robinson to Kobe Bryant to Lebron James, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant,” said Brown.
Just over a year ago Brown was approached about coaching the Nigerian basketball team in the Tokyo Olympics, which were originally scheduled for 2020.
After doing some research, he said yes.
“I just thought what a fantastic opportunity to help a country, especially in Africa, to elevate itself on the world stage in the game of basketball,” said Brown.
Brown got started by working with the country’s basketball federation to build the organization the right way.
Part of that process was assembling a top notch staff for Team Nigeria, and for that, Brown didn’t look far.
Nigeria Basketball’s head trainer, equipment manager, head of security and an assistant coach – all members of the Warriors staff stepping in to help.
“On top of that the Warriors are going to let us use our old practice facility in Oakland as our home base for training camp before we leave for Tokyo. So there are a lot of ties,” said Brown.
Brown says he couldn’t be more grateful for the support of Warriors Owner Joe Lacob, GM Bob Myers and the rest of the staff.
Brown believes that support comes from a shared goal of making the world a better place through basketball.
“No matter what your skin color is, no matter which village you’re from or area of the block you’re from; the more that we can inspire people to play basketball and come together to compete, you know people of different background to play together, in my opinion. That’s when more of those barriers start to come down,” said Brown.
Brown recently saw the impact of his team come to life.
In November of 2020 he led Team Nigeria to a perfect record with three 20-point wins in the Afrobasket Championship Qualifiers.
“The minister of sports was excited about it. He said we’re going to build courts in every single town or province. And now they’re in the process of putting in I think maybe 170 courts all throughout Nigeria,” said Brown.
Brown now is continuing to recruit players and establish his team’s identity in the much more physical international game.
“Everybody’s long, everybody’s athletic, we want to be an overly aggressive team offensively and when it comes to pace, we really want to get out in transition,” said Brown.
Brown says each game for his team, means more than points on the board though.
He says the best way to explain it is through the words of Nelson Mandela.
“On everything I hand out to our guys it’s either on the top of the bottom of the page, is this quote: ‘The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The Black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence’,” said Brown.
Brown wanted to make clear that his responsibilities with the Warriors come first, so he will not be attending the second round of the Afrobasket Qualifiers later this month.
However, he’s looking forward to setting up team Nigeria’s training camp after the NBA season. He also says if anyone is interested in helping out with the team in any way, feel free to reach out to him, or you can support the team just by watching their games and following them on social media.