New York Knicks: Larry Brown

Brown: Woody, Dolan have 'great' rapport

January, 4, 2014
If there's one thing Larry Brown learned during his 26-year NBA coaching career, it's the importance of having a good relationship with the guy who signs the checks.

"Everywhere I've ever been, if the head coach and the owner have a good relationship and are honest with each other and they know exactly what their goals [and values] are, you're going to be successful," Brown said in a phone interview earlier this week.

So what about Mike Woodson's relationship with New York Knicks owner James Dolan?

Brown, who said he speaks to Woodson nearly every day, said he believes the Knicks' coach and owner have a "great" relationship.

"I think Mike and Mr. Dolan have that kind of relationship," said Brown, a former Knicks coach himself. "And I think that's a good thing."

[+] EnlargeLarry Brown
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesFormer Knicks coach Larry Brown knows what his friend Mike Woodson is going through.
Forecasting Dolan's opinion of his employees is always a dicey proposition. The owner rarely -- and I mean rarely -- speaks to reporters who cover the Knicks. But recent events suggest Dolan has Woodson's back.

The owner gave Woodson a vote of confidence in late November, when the Knicks were 3-8. A month later, in an effort to quiet the daily speculation over Woodson's job status, Dolan told players there would be no trades or coaching changes.

"I think if Jim knows that you're trying hard and you're working hard and you're doing everything you can to see that the team is successful, he'll stick by you," said Brown, who currently serves as head coach at Southern Methodist University. "That's what Mike's expressed to me and that's the feeling I got."

Brown went through a messy one-year tenure in New York -- complete with a contentious divorce from the organization -- but says he has no ill will toward Dolan.

"Everybody criticizes Jim Dolan. Jim Dolan was fair with me," said Brown, who added that he regrets not having a direct line of communication with Dolan. "I think he wants to win, he wants to give the coaches the resources to win. He's demanding but he should be -- it's the New York Knicks."

Brown signed a five-year, $50 million deal with the Knicks in 2005. But he was let go after one forgettable 23-win season. The Knicks paid him an $18.5 settlement after cutting him loose.

Some fans and media believe Woodson should suffer the same fate. Woodson led the Knicks to 54 wins last season, but his team has performed well below expectations this season.

Brown, perhaps striking an optimistic tone because he and Woodson are close friends, says his ex-assistant can turn things around -- if key players can stay healthy.

"There are a lot of winnable games in the East. You take Indiana, and you take Miami [away] and everybody's floundering," says Brown, who shared the bench with Woodson in Philadelphia and Detroit. "I think the [Knicks] can do well, I don't doubt them at all. Mike feels strongly about that. You don't win 54 games last year and forget everything."

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Brown endorses Woodson in New York

May, 26, 2012

Despite going through a messy one-year tenure in New York -- complete with a contentious divorce from the organization -- former Knicks and current SMU coach Larry Brown fully endorses the notion of his buddy Mike Woodson coaching the Knicks.

"Everybody says I had a bad experience in New York and this and that. But I wanted Woody to go there. He's in a great position to win," Brown said by phone on Friday.

Woodson, who served as interim head coach for the final 24 games of the regular season and the playoffs, signed a three-year contract extension on Friday night.

Brown signed a five-year, $50 million deal with the Knicks in 2005. But he lasted just one season, the Knicks paying him an $18.5 settlement after cutting him loose.

Brown said Friday that one of his biggest mistakes was not communicating directly with Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, whom Brown said is committed to building a winning team.

"I told Woody the guy wants to win in the worst way, and when you work for an owner like that, that wants to win, you have an unbelievable chance," Brown said.

Stephen Chernin/Getty ImagesLarry Brown

Of course, wanting to win and actually winning are two different things.

The Knicks haven't won an NBA championship since 1973. Under Woodson, the Knicks snapped a 13-game playoff losing streak -- spanning 11 seasons -- this spring when they beat the Heat in Game 4 of their first-round series.

But Brown believes Woodson is in a great position to succeed because of Dolan and the players on the roster.

"Guys want to play in (New York) and the biggest thing is, I love the NBA, and the league needs a great team in New York," Brown said. "So he (Woodson) is in a pretty terrific position."

Brown certainly wasn't. He went 23-59 in his only season in New York. He said his main problem with the Knicks was a "chain of command" issue. Brown reportedly clashed with then-Knicks president and GM Isiah Thomas.

"I never doubted (Dolan's) desire to win," Brown said, adding, "I kick myself all the time for not having a direct relationship with the owner because I think a lot of things might have been different."

Before taking the gig in New York, Brown coached in Detroit. It was there than he worked closely with Woodson, who helped coach a lockdown Pistons defense during their championship season of 2004.

"The guy can coach," Brown said of Woodson, "There's no question."

Brown talks to Woodson almost every day and calls him one of his best friends.

"I care deeply about him and I know he cares about me," Brown said.

Woodson made headlines during negotiations when he fired agent Joe Glass and signed with Terry Prince of Creative Artists Agency. CAA has several ties to the Knicks, representing Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Mark Warkentein and Allan Houston.

The Garden reportedly pressured Woodson to fire Glass because of its past history with the veteran agent. Glass represented Brown and worked with Brown to get the $18.5 million settlement after he was fired.

A Woodson source said earlier this week that he felt it was best for negotiations to sever ties, but he still cares about Glass.

Woodson denied that the Garden had any influence in his decision to dump Glass.

Brown wasn't interested in delving into the Glass issue or talking much about his messy tenure in New York.

"That's over with," Brown said. "Woody's there. (Ex-president and GM) Donnie (Walsh) brought it back and Woody has the chance to do something special because I think everything's in place.

"I'm not looking back on it," Brown added. "I'm only looking forward. And I don't want anything about my relationship (with Dolan and the Knicks) to affect Woody at all. I did tell him to go there. ... Dolan is a man that wants to win. The fans need a great team and they got a guy that I love, so I'm OK. "

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.



Carmelo Anthony
24.1 3.1 0.9 36.1
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.0
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.4
StealsS. Larkin 1.3
BlocksL. Amundson 1.6