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Despite Summer Olympics Delay, Alumnus Mike Brown's Process Continues

Despite Summer Olympics Delay, Alumnus Mike Brown's Process Continues

Mike Brown played two seasons on the San Diego men's basketball team. In the 1990-91 and 91-92 seasons he started 35 games at guard under USD Hall of Famer Hank Egan.

With the help of Egan and former USD head coach — also a USD Hall of Famer — Bernie Bickerstaff, Brown embarked on an NBA career that spans more than two decades.

He was the Cleveland Cavaliers head coach for six seasons, guiding the Cavs to their first NBA Finals appearance in 2007. He was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2009. He is in his fourth season as the Golden State Warriors associate head coach and helped the Warriors win two NBA titles. He also has stops with the San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers.

Among the players Brown has coached: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.

Despite the wealth of basketball experience to this point, Brown experienced a basketball first in February. He was named head coach of Nigeria's men's national team, which has qualified for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.

He will become part of an exclusive class of Toreros to participate in the Olympics, which includes Mike Whitmarsh (former basketball player who competed in beach volleyball in the Olympics) and Alison Cox (rowing).

"Anytime you get asked to do something like that, especially on that stage, it's an honor," said Brown, who turned 50 in March. "Every four years, there are only 12 teams that make it to the Olympics. To say you're a head coach of an Olympic team, especially like the country of Nigeria, is an honor. In my opinion, it surpasses a lot of the accomplishments I've been a part of in the NBA."

This spring and summer were supposed to be busy for Brown and the Nigerian team. A trip to Nigeria spanning late May to early June to conduct a tryout. Two training camps in the San Francisco Bay Area. A trip to Las Vegas to play exhibitions. Trips to China, then Australia before embarking to Japan for the Olympics.

But the Olympics were postponed in March, pushed back to 2021. The 2019-20 NBA season is scheduled to resume on July 30, but the Warriors, who owned the NBA's worst record at 15-50 when play was stopped in March, will not be part of the resumption.

With the Warriors' season over, Brown has spent much of his time preparing for Nigeria's national team. He has appointed assistant coaches, two equipment managers and two trainers.

"We have a deep staff of NBA personnel helping out," said Brown. "It's a staff I think will make sure the players only have to concentrate on winning games."

Brown and his staff are studying teams that have already qualified for the 2021 Games and have been implementing offensive and defensive philosophies.

Defensively, Brown envisions a team that does not sit back but one that pressures the basketball, sometimes the full 94 feet.

"I feel like we have a pretty big, long, athletic team," said Brown. "We're going to use our physical attributes the best we can to our advantage."

Offensively, Brown wants to push the ball up the floor.

"We'll try to play fast, looking to attack as much as we can," said Brown. "And trying to make sure the floor is spaced so there are avenues for us to get by people and make plays."

The NBA is loaded with players who were born in Nigeria or are of Nigerian descent, like the Minnesota Timberwolves' Josh Okogie, the Orlando Magic's Al-Farouq Aminu, the San Antonio Spurs' Chimezie Metu and the Miami Heat's Gabe Vincent. 
 
There are multiple college players who might play for Nigeria. USC's Onyeka Okungwu, Auburn's Isaac Okoro and Memphis' Precious Achiuwa are forecast to be selected in the top 12 of the 2020 NBA Draft, according to nbadraft.net.

"There's some talent out there, and it's obviously growing," said Brown. "It's a matter of trying to organize it and point it in the right direction."

Brown has traveled a bit in his life. His father served in the Air Force for 26 years. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Brown lived in Japan and Germany growing up. He graduated from Wurzburg American High School in Wurzburg, Germany, where he played football and basketball.

When he attended USD he went by Michael Brown. Randy Bennett, now the head coach at Saint Mary's, was Egan's top assistant when Brown was a USD scholar-athlete. Former Torero Gus Magee served on Egan's staff.

"I'm still in touch with most everyone I played with at USD," said Brown. "Ky Snyder (USD's former athletic director and now vice president of operations) is a good friend of mine. The relationships I've made going to that school have helped me in leaps and bounds throughout my life."

— USD Athletics

Golden State Warriors Associate Head Coach and USD alumnus Mike Brown '92 (BBA) was named Nigeria's head men's basketball coach for the Summer Olympics that have been postponed to 2021.Golden State Warriors Associate Head Coach and USD alumnus Mike Brown '92 (BBA) was named Nigeria's head men's basketball coach for the Summer Olympics that have been postponed to 2021.

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Chris Kutz, Associate Athletics Director, Strategic Communications
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(619) 260-7930

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