Brown’s classic answer how he’ll celebrate Kings’ division title originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
While the Kings entered the 2022-23 NBA season hoping to end their 17-year playoff drought, all four Pacific Division rivals were considered legitimate championship contenders.
But in the final week of the regular season, it is coach Mike Brown and the Kings — not the Clippers, Lakers, Suns or Warriors — standing alone atop the division standings.
Sacramento (48-31) clinched its first division title since 2003 on Tuesday night with a 121-103 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center. No matter what happens in the postseason, there will be a banner at Golden 1 Center to recognize what Brown accomplished in his first season on the Kings’ bench.
How does the 53-year-old coach plan to observe his team’s accomplishment?
“We’re going to celebrate this tonight,” Brown said. “I’m going to listen to my country music and drink a Modelo [beer].”
That beer will be more than deserved. When the Kings last won the division, Brown was a 32-year-old assistant coach under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. Keegan Murray, the Kings’ prized rookie, was three years old. Kings center Domantas Sabonis’ father, Arvydas Sabonis, was still playing in the NBA.
“It’s awesome, especially for the franchise,” Sabonis said Tuesday of the Pacific Division clinch. “They haven’t done it in such a long time. It just shows the hard work everyone in the organization has put in this year.”
If the playoffs began Tuesday, all five Pacific Division teams would make the postseason bracket. And all five have legitimate cases to represent the Western Conference in the 2023 NBA Finals.
Sacramento has a historic offense. The Warriors are the defending champions. Phoenix made the biggest move at the trade deadline by acquiring superstar Kevin Durant. The Lakers saved their season at the deadline and still feature two of the game’s top players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers have the talent to do so if they stay healthy.
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“We knew going into the season that our division was going to be tough,” Murray told NBC Sports California’s Kyle Draper and Matt Barnes after the win. “I feel like after the trade deadline it got even tougher.
“But we know the playoffs is a different season. We’re excited to get to it and go against them.”
There are three regular-season games remaining before the Kings will host the first playoff game in Sacramento in 17 years. They are two games behind the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference standings for the No. 2 playoff seed and can’t finish any worse than third.
With playoffs and the division clinched, what is the Kings’ plan for their final three contests?
“Get on this bus, fly to Dallas and we’ll figure that out tomorrow,” Brown said.
Fair enough. He’s earned it.