By Dave “Deuce” Mason
Sacramento Kings head coach Michael Malone said prior to the Kings-Spurs game on Friday that he wouldn’t be an NBA head coach without the help of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich
The weird thing is Malone never worked for the four-time NBA champion head coach yet he recommended Malone for a job on Mike Brown’s staff in Cleveland.
The two met in 2005 on a week long trip for the NBA’s “Basketball without Borders” program in Argentina and struck a bond by talking Russian history and drinking wine.
“I didn’t try to kiss his ass, you know I wasn’t trying to show him how much I knew about the game,” Malone said.
“I drank a lot of wine that week, and I’m not a big wine guy.”
Those nights of drinking wine and talking history paid off for Malone’s NBA coaching career.
“At the end of the week he said ‘I don’t know if you know s*** about the game but if you ever need a job, let me know,’ ” Malone said.
Malone picked up the phone the next week, and before he knew it he got a job in Cleveland with former Spurs assistant Mike Brown where he helped the Cavs reach the NBA Finals.
Popovich said he could tell Malone had the make up of an NBA coach.
“He’s a people person. He’s somebody I felt players would really respect,” Popovich told the media on Friday.
Popovich went to bat for Malone because “he had a toughness about him. A fairness, but a toughness about him where I thought he’d persevere in all kind of situations and in an NBA season there’s all kinds of ups and downs.”
Malone remains forever grateful for Popovich helping him out in his career.
“He didn’t have to do anything for me…I think what kind of sets him apart is he wants to see people get ahead, and wants to help people,” Malone said.
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