It's not a good time to be an NBA fan. The lockout is in its fifth month, it has cost the NBA the first month of the regular season, and an agent-driven cadre of star players is thinking eight-figure paycheck-first as it muses aloud about decertifying the NBA's players union. Such a move would no doubt put the entire 2011-12 season on life support, at best.
So in these dim times, it would be nice to see a lovable, heartwarming NBA character come back into our lives after nearly a year out of the NBA spotlight. Someone like … Larry Brown?
(I'm trying here, folks. I really am.)
Larry Brown, who was let go by the Charlotte Bobcats as the team's head coach last December, is dropping his usual passive-aggressive hints about how much he wants back into the NBA. As an assistant, he says (sure thing, Lar), but if you have a head coaching gig available? Perhaps LB would be interested.
"I'd go help [Boston Celtics head coach] Doc [Rivers] in a minute, but he wants to help the people he's evolved with," Brown said. "He'll try rewarding the guys who have put in their time with him. It works. Two of his assistants (Lawrence Frank and Tom Thibodeau) have become head coaches. We talked about it, and he wants to help the people who have been with him.
"I have no problem with being an assistant coach, but I really want to get back to coaching again, or even move into management," said Brown. "That was a one-time thing we talked about, with the understanding that if he ever had another opening, we would talk again."
The Herald article reminds that Brown turned down a chance to be on Rivers' staff in 2007, preferring the less stressful gig as a stay-at-home paid Philadelphia 76ers consultant to life on the road. That assistant job instead went to Thibodeau, who has gone on to two NBA Finals (with one championship) as an assistant and a Coach of the Year win in Chicago last season.
You've got to hand it to Brown, because he really never stops. Five years ago he was at the helm of his latest dream job, running the New York Knicks (and rightfully attempting to usurp the power of the terrible Isiah Thomas before Thomas let him go), and he's watched things go a little pear-shaped in the years since. Only a lifer willingly takes a job running the Charlotte Bobcats in front of nine thousand people a night, or interviews with the Minnesota Timberwolves in attempt to helm year five of their rebuilding plan at age 71.
It would be endearing if he wasn't so, y'know, Larry Brown-ish about it. Remember, this was the guy who won all sorts of plaudits for positioning himself as the Play the Right Way champion opposite his Philadelphia 76ers a decade ago, endlessly talking about how he could have the same amount of fun as a basketball coach working with high school or even junior high kids. I don't blame the guy for not looking into high school gigs each time he was let go by an NBA team (in 2003, 2006, 2007, and last December), but memories die hard when you talk yourself up so much.
With that in place, it would be good to see Larry Brown on a bench as an assistant this year. Partially because it would mean we'd get to see NBA games this season. But mostly because Larry Brown clearly knows the game inside-out, and obviously has quite a bit left to teach. To take an assistant's job, without trying to angle for the lead role? Now that would be endearing.
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