Saturday’s Den: Looking at the successful but very unusual coaching career of Larry Brown

Larry Brown needs to write a book; he’s had a fascinating career, changing jobs a lot, which is a huge understatement. Coach Brown is 80 now; his mom lived to 106. Here is a brief outline of his coaching stops, most of which were very successful.

1972-74) Carolina Cougars, ABA— Went 104-64 in two years; some of his players were Joe Caldwell, Ed Manning (Danny’s father), Billy Cunningham.

1974-79) Denver Nuggets, ABA/NBA— Went 125-43 with Denver in the ABA, 126-91 in the NBA; he had David Thompson, Dan Issel, Paul Silas, Mack Calvin.

1979-81) UCLA Bruins— Went 42-17 in two seasons, lost the 1980 national title game 59-54 to Louisville. But the NCAA vacated these wins because they used two ineligible players during these two seasons.

1981-83) New Jersey Nets— Went 91-67 in two years, then left. He did this more than once.

1983-88) Kansas Jayhawks— Went 135-44 in five years, won the 1988 national title behind star Danny Manning (his dad Ed played for Brown’s Carolina Cougars).

Just as soon as he won the national title, Brown bolted back to pro ball……..

1988-92) San Antonio Spurs— Went 153-131 over 3.5 years, was canned during the 4th year. The next year, San Antonio replaced him with Jerry Tarkanian.

1992-93)  Los Angeles Clippers— At one point during his career, I suggested that he might change jobs during a TV timeout; we’d come back and he’d be coaching the other team. It didn’t seem impossible. 

He went 64-53 in 1.5 seasons; I mean, the guy won all the time, but never stayed anywhere.

1993-97) Indiana Pacers— Went 190-138 in four seasons, then 22-16 in playoff games, losing twice in Eastern Conference finals.

1997-2003) Philadelphia 76ers— Six years had to feel like an eternity, but he was coaching Allen Iverson. Sixers went 255-205 under Brown, 28-30 in playoff games, losing the 2001 Finals.

2003-05) Detroit Pistons— Won the NBA title the first year, lost in Finals the second, then just like that, he was gone.

2005-06) New York Knicks— Went 23-59 in one very forgettable season. 

2008-11) Charlotte Bobcats— Went back to his Carolina basketball roots, went 88-104, made the playoffs the 2nd year, left 28 games (9-19) into the third year.

2012-16) SMU Mustangs— Went 85-39 at SMU, got them to the NCAA’s and to an NIT Final Four, but just like UCLA, he also ran afoul of the NCAA, and left unexpectedly.

— Brown was a good point guard; he was the MVP of the first-ever ABA All-Star Game
— Brown won a national title in the NBA and in college ball, the only guy to do that.
— Brown played for Dean Smith in college at North Carolina, was a very good point guard; his story is unique in basketball- he and his family must be great at packing. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.