|Sunday, December 28
DALLAS -- Hubie Brown trudged out of American Airlines Center on Saturday night with a computer case slung over his left arm, insistent on toting his own bag. He politely denied a request from an arena security guard to be driven by golf cart to the team bus.
Brown preferred instead to walk away alongside his son, Brendan, who doubles as an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies. There was another defeat the elder Brown was eager to start dissecting with his staff, the Grizzlies' fifth straight.
"I think winning the game is more important than health in Hubie's eyes," said Memphis swingman Shane Battier. "So all we can do is trust him and hope that he keeps his health in mind."
Brown, the 70-year-old whose old-school influence has helped make Memphis one of the season's early surprises, gave Battier and everyone else on the Grizzlies' bench quite a scare late in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 104-98 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. During a timeout with less than five minutes to play, Brown appeared to nearly faint, falling backward as he stood with his coaches. Brendan Brown caught his dad to prevent him from hitting the floor, but panicked scenes followed on the sideline as Hubie was led back to his chair and then checked by doctors.
The preliminary word was that Brown, suffering from an inner-ear infection, simply got lightheaded in the heat of a Memphis comeback from 18 points down. Brown, though, wouldn't even admit that much, claiming that he simply tripped getting out of his chair.
"When you're old, you trip [and] everybody gets excited," Brown said. "I was fine. Everything was fine."
Yet it was hard to miss the presence of a stretcher outside the Grizzlies' locker room, just in case Brown's condition was serious. Brown wound up checking out fine during a more thorough postgame examination ... but only after meeting with the media first for his postgame address and railing about how the Memphis starters were outscored by 36 points in their court time together.
"I've never been a part of nothing like that," said Bonzi Wells, who came off the bench to lead Memphis with 30 points. "I saw him almost pass out or whatever happened. I think he got a little too excited, but hopefully everything's OK. He's going to be in our prayers tonight."
Brown is the oldest coach in the NBA by nearly seven years, with Dallas' Don Nelson, at 63, ranking as the second-oldest. Besides leading Memphis to its best-ever start -- by far the latest in a season that the Grizzlies have ever been .500 -- Brown has earned widespread praise for getting a consistently good response from one of the league's youngest teams. Most notably Jason Williams, Memphis' famously wild point guard.
It certainly didn't surprise Brown's players that he simply loosened his tie after the scare and kept bellowing at them during a rally that ultimately failed to halt Memphis' skid from 15-10 to .500.
"We all have a lot of faith in Hubie," Battier said. "We know that he's going to be out there coaching and fighting."