|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
|Larry Brown hasn't reminded Knicks fans of Red Holzman.|
|Is Larry Brown standing next to his sideline successor in NYC?|
If he leaves now? The Knicks, of all teams, would be the first and only of Brown's eight NBA teams that he could not get to the playoffs. If he leaves now? For all of Brown's moving around, in college and the pros, Madison Square Garden would be the first address where the Brooklyn-born, Long Island-reared coach couldn't last even 12 months. Isiah Thomas, after all of his own foibles, did try to make shake-up trades that gave him Eddy Curry, Jalen Rose and Steve Francis. Brown gave the impression that he loathed coaching everyone on the payroll, which created a long list of reconciliations New York would have needed to see to have any hope of being competitive next season. The whole sad drama wound up (somehow) turning Marbury into a sympathetic figure, (almost) made Jerome James look like a free-agent bargain and (pretty much) ensured that Brown would have to go. The solace for Knicks fans who thought they were getting a bona fide savior -- the most impactful free agent they could have signed last summer -- is that Brown's deep-pockets bosses are prepared to buy their way out of the marriage. The anti-Thomas set will also happily note that Isiah, should he replace Brown as expected, would be coaching for his Knicks life. You have to figure it would seal Isiah's own ouster if the roster he stocked with all those hard-to-move contracts doesn't play markedly better for him than it did under Brown. Someone will undoubtedly suggest that Thomas' post-Pistons legacy, after all the mistakes he's made, can't be saved at this stage. No matter what happens. Probably so, but I submit that the glow of Brown's legacy has been permanently dulled as well. He won't be tainted forever, since only gambling or steroids or something similarly sinister taints you forever in sports, but one graceless season in Gotham guarantees that Brown will never remind anyone of Red Holzman. Which was Larry's goal when all this Dream Job stuff started. Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.