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Thursday, June 21, 2007
Less Lovable Larry


In today's New York Times, Howard Beck points out that in recent months Sam Vincent, Marc Iavaroni, Stan Van Gundy, Billy Donovan, Rick Adelman, Jim O'Brien, Larry Krystkowiak, and Randy Wittman have all been given (and Donovan eventually declined) NBA head head coaching jobs.

Meanwhile, legendary Larry Brown remains a consultant to the Philadelphia 76ers.

He openly lobbied for the Sacramento job which now belongs to Reggie Theus. He managed to get an interview in Memphis. But, for the moment at least, one of the best basketball minds in the business is apparently an unattractive candidate. He is not among those reported to be in the running for the one remaining head coaching vacancy, in Seattle.

Beck writes:

There is little doubt, even among Brown's supporters, that his recent past is hurting his candidacy. The Knicks fired Brown after he alienated most of his players and engaged in a public feud with the star guard Stephon Marbury. Brown was also accused of trying to broker trades and undermining Isiah Thomas, the team president.

Nine days before joining the Knicks, Brown was fired by the Detroit Pistons, despite guiding them to two finals and one championship (in 2004). The Pistons' owner, Bill Davidson, furious over Brown's dalliances with the Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers, said Brown was "not a good person."

In severing ties with Brown, the Knicks and the Pistons paid a combined $25.5 million in contract settlements.

In some quarters, Brown is also blamed for the disappointing bronze-medal finish of the United States team in the 2004 Olympics. As the head coach of that team, Brown was criticized for not giving enough playing time to the young stars Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire.

Brown turns 67 in September and might be picky about his next destination. Friends say Brown only wants to coach a contender. A number of N.B.A. executives said Brown lost interest in the Memphis job when the Grizzlies failed to win one of the top spots in the draft lottery.

Some expect that Brown will eventually replace Maurice Cheeks on the 76ers' bench. But the list of teams willing to gamble on him is clearly shrinking.

Brown has one thing going for him, though: every owner knows that Brown is a way to spend your way into some fan optimism. His teams don't often win titles, but even with lame rosters they always have a shot. At some point, that'll be enough to get somebody to roll the dice on him once again, I'd bet. It might be too soon at this point. But within the next couple of years, once he has had time to lower his standards a little, perhaps, I bet he'll be prowling the NBA sidelines again.