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"I think they get so angry at me that they've learned to love each other" - Larry Brown on bonding every team he coached

New York Knicks players unified to oppose Brown.
Larry Brown as Charlotte Bobcats head coach in 2010 talks to guard Raymond Felton

Larry Brown

During his active years as an NBA coach, Larry Brown made sure establish respect among his players. As expected, Brown often clashed with the teams he coached. However, what the Hall of Fame coach admittedly did not expect was how that shared hatred towards him resulted with a strong bond between his players.

Larry never meant it to happen

Brown may not be the greatest basketball coach of all time, but many remember him for his ability to unite almost every team he led. When asked about how he was able to pull it off, considering some of those NBA players were notorious for being hard-headed and egoistic, Brown bluntly admitted the he never intended to make his players like each other.

Looking back at it, Brown just thought they hated his style so much that they wound up getting along well over time.

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“Well, I think they get so angry at me that they’ve learned to love each other and bond. And I don’t do that by design,” Brown said on In Depth with Graham Bensinger in 2017. “I am demanding. I do get on kids. I hope they understand the difference between coaching and criticism. That’s really a key. And they have to make sacrifices.”

It was exactly what happened in New York

As it turned out, Brown was right about his analysis. According to NBA insider and Sports Illustrated’s Howard Beck, that’s exactly what took place when the New York Knicks appointed Brown as the team’s head coach in 2005.

For those who didn’t know, then-Knicks star point guard Stephon Marbury already had a rift with Brown at the 2004 Olympics. With that in mind, we already have an idea of what was about to happen when “Starbury” realized that he was under Brown’s tutelage once again.

At the time, the Knicks were in a terrible situation and Beck said having Brown and Marbury at the helm didn’t help at all. Just like how Brown described it, Beck confirmed that Marbury found new allies in some of his teammates to join him in his ongoing conflict with coach Brown.

"There was just so much mayhem," Beck shared. "The conflict wasn't just Larry Brown and Stephon Marbury. They eventually made a trade for Steve Francis…Marbury and Francis ended up bonding and uniting against Brown.”

In retrospect, Brown surely didn’t wish to beef with his own players. But if that made them closer to one another, perhaps it was worth it after all.

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