Mike Brown's 'tough' De'Aaron Fox coaching helped build Kings' culture

How Brown's 'tough' coaching on Fox helped build Kings' culture originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

When Mike Brown first became the Kings' new head coach, he promised he would put plenty of pressure on star guard De'Aaron Fox to help usher in a new brand of basketball in Sacramento.

Well, Brown did just that -- and the winning followed. Fresh off the Kings' first NBA playoff appearance in 17 years, Fox's teammate Kevin Huerter detailed just how pivotal Brown's old-school approach was in cultivating Sacramento's success in the 2022-23 NBA season.

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"I don’t know how many coaches in the NBA are still like [Brown] in terms of how hard they coach and how much they demand from you as a team and as a player," Huerter said this week on "The Old Man and The Three" podcast. "For me, one of the more eye-opening things at the start of the year and why I think he was able to coach so hard is how tough he was on De’Aaron."

In one of his first interviews after being hired, Brown told NBC Sports California's Kyle Draper he viewed Fox as "that guy." Huerter explained how Brown expected more from Fox this season, holding the 25-year-old to a higher standard and showing there would be no favorites on the team.

"That was behind closed doors, that was in front of the team. We’re watching film, he’s calling him out. We’re on the court, he’s stopping plays," Huerter said. "He demanded so much out of Fox that when he’d get on other guys, it was like, if he’s getting on Foxy and [Domantas Sabonis] the same way he’s getting on the 13th and 14th guy, you have no choice but to listen to him, take his coaching and you don’t really have a response to him.

"So, I think the best thing he did was he established that."


Brown's leadership helped the Kings earn the Western Conference's No. 3 seed and snap their 16-season playoff drought before falling in the first round to the Golden State Warriors.

Fox was named an NBA All-Star for the first time in his career, and he credited Brown's coaching for his defensive improvements during the season.

Brown and Fox shared a common goal of doing whatever it might take to reach the postseason. That included Brown's tough-love approach with Fox, which the star guard always accepted.

"[He] nodded his head. I think there was definitely respect both ways," Huerter said of how Fox reacted to Brown's coaching. He noted the entire Kings roster respected Brown because of the players he has coached over the years such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry, to name a few.


"In our locker room, no one is at that level yet for what those guys have accomplished on the court to have any other sort of response to him, so Fox never looked a certain way, never sucked his teeth. He took it, nodded his head, was in agreement most of the time and continued to play," Huerter concluded.

RELATED: Huerter's perspective on future of Kings victory beam

Brown was rewarded for his efforts in Sacramento this past season with the 2022-23 NBA Coach of the Year Award. And while the Kings ended their playoff drought under Brown's watch, Fox and Co. are far from done.