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Mike Brown still gets advice from Gregg Popovich

Apr 11, 2012, 8:23 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown watches as his team loses in the fourth quarter during their NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix Reuters

A lot of Lakers fans like to remind Mike Brown he doesn’t have a ring — except that he does. He was an assistant on the Spurs when they picked up their 2005 ring.

Brown comes out of the Gregg Popovich coaching tree in the NBA. And before his Lakers team takes on the Spurs Wednesday (without Kobe Bryant) he said he and Popovich still keep in touch, reports the Orange County Register.

“Times get tough at certain times for me,” Brown said. “He’s probably the guy that I reach out to more than anybody else, and he knows me well enough to where if I haven’t reached out to him, I’ll see I got a phone call from him or a text from him. He’s been great for me — and not just for me, but for my entire family.”

“He still helps me out,” Brown said. “He’s just a real human being. He knows people very well, and that’s probably his strongest strength. He’s a terrific, terrific people manager. He helps me in a lot of ways, not only on the floor but off the floor in my personal life.”

They are different in coaching style — for example Popovich rested his big three where Brown had Kobe and Pau Gasol playing the second and third most minutes in the league, at least up to Kobe’s injury. Part of that is depth on the roster — Popovich has it and trusts it, Brown’s bench is a disaster and that is more about roster construction by the franchise than him — but part of it is a willingness to lose now if it helps later.

Brown is still the student, still with lessons to learn from the master. But we all need friends and advisors, and if you’re going to have one as an NBA coach not many better than the guy in San Antonio.

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