The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) in February 2020 pulled off a massive feat with the appointment of NBA coach Mike Brown as the coach of the D'Tigers, Nigeria's senior men's basketball team.
Coach of Nigeria's men's senior basketball team Mike Brown is doing it for free
The NBA coach is not demanding any sort of salary for this job as D'Tigers' boss.
The D'Tigers have had a slew of good coaches but getting Brown; a bonafide NBA coach was a huge feat.
Born in Ohio, Brown didn't have a good playing career, but since he hung his sneakers, he has worked his way up to NBA top coaching jobs.
Aside from his several assistant coach jobs with the Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, and the Golden State Warriors, he has had stints as the head coach at Cleveland Cavaliers and La Lakers, where he worked with the legendary LeBron James and Kobe Bryant respectively.
Brown, too, despite his profile, was 100% committed to the job. He chose to work for free for a start, demanding that the money used in the development of basketball in Nigeria.
The Golden State Warriors associate coach took charge of the D'Tigers team with just the Tokyo Olympic Games his only brief, but the COVID-19 pandemic has since changed everything.
Instead of the Olympics, his first task was the first round of the 2021 Afrobasket qualifiers which kicked off in November 2019.
The qualifiers have been successful, with Brown's team already booking their place in the 2021 Afrobaset tournament in Kigali, Rwanda, after the Olympics.
Ahead of the Olympics, the D'Tigers have impressed with big wins against the United States and Argentina in exhibition games.
Although getting a medal at the Olympics might be too much of a task to be asked of the team yet, there has been a stark improvement that started with Brown's predecessor Alexander Nwora who is still in the coaching setup.
While his focus has always been the Olympics since he got the job, Brown has also set his sights on the team's medium and long-term development.
"We want to be a power house, we want to be mentioned with the best in the world and in other to do that, you need to be sure the players are taken care of and the standards are set at the right level," he told ESPN in December 2020.
The 51-year-old is blessed with an array of foreign-born and trained talent but he has also done his homework with making sure that these players opt to play for Nigeria.
He has also improved the coaching staff of the D'Tigers with experts from the NBA.
Some player development coaches on the Warriors staff are already helping him ahead of the Olympics.
Darvin Ham, associate head coach in the Milwaukee Bucks, Jordi Fernandez, second assistant for the Denver Nuggets and James Laughlin, Golden State director of video operations, are also some of the experts he is working with.
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