Warriors' Mike Brown to coach Olympic-bound Nigeria men's hoops team

ByMarc J. Spears ESPN logo
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Golden State Warriors associate head coach Mike Brown has agreed to terms to become the new head coach for the Nigeria national men's basketball team that is heading to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he told The Undefeated.

Nigeria will be appearing in the Olympics' men's basketball competition for the third straight time. Prior to that, the program had never appeared in the Games.

Nigeria Basketball Federation president Musa Kida had been seeking a high-profile veteran coach with an NBA background, a source said. The D'Tigers believe that Brown, a former Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers head coach who has coached the likes of the late Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr, Tony Parker and Kyrie Irving, fits their need.

"I'm honored and humbled that Musa Kida and the Nigerian Basketball Federation have given me this opportunity," Brown said. "The Nigerian Basketball Federation has been very professional and organized throughout the vetting process. They want to continue to build a world-class team and organization on and off the court. I'm excited to have learned that the Federation's vision is to provide the team with the necessary resources to compete at the highest level. Their commitment will enable the players and coaches to focus our energy on competing at the highest possible level every time we step on the basketball court. We want to make all of Nigeria proud."

Brown, 49, is in his fourth season as associate head coach for the Warriors. Golden State has won two NBA championships and advanced to the NBA Finals three times during his time with the franchise. Brown also once led the Warriors to a 11-0 record during the 2016-17 NBA playoffs while head coach Steve Kerr was absent for health reasons.

Brown was the head coach of the Cavaliers from 2005 to 2010 and also the 2013-14 season, and led the Lakers in 2011-12. The 2009 NBA Coach of the Year led James and the Cavaliers to the franchise's first NBA Finals appearance in 2007.

Brown has a career NBA head-coaching record of 347-216 over eight seasons. The former University of San Diego guard also has served as an assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards. Brown ranks eighth in NBA history among coaches in win percentage with over 500 games coached at .616.

Brown has previous basketball experience on the international level. He served as an assistant coach to Mark Few on the United States' bronze-medal-winning team at the 2015 Pan American Games. He was also a scout for USA Basketball's 2019 World Cup team.

Nigeria qualified for the 2020 Olympics after beating China in the classification round while also becoming the best-placed African team in the 2019 World Cup. Nigeria's 2019 World Cup team included current NBA players Al-Farouq Aminu, Chimezie Metu, Josh Okogieand Gabe Vincent; former NBA players Ike Diogu, Ekpe Udoh and Ben Uzoh; andLouisville junior forward Jordan Nwora.

Nigeria participated in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics but has yet to medal.

Brown, an African-American, wants to run the D'Tigers in the same fashion as other top national teams.

"The Nigerian Federation leadership team has made it clear to me that they are going to put us in the best possible position to be successful in Tokyo this summer," Brown said.

Brown plans to hire a full coaching staff, including player development personnel, video personnel, scouts and medical personnel for the Nigerian national team. The Warriors have given Brown their blessing and will allow Nigeria to use its newly renovated East Bay practice facility in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Brown could also potentially add one NBA player to the roster who would be granted a Nigerian passport.