Larry Brown is one of the greatest coaches ever. He is the only coach to lead a team to the NCAA and NBA title (Kentucky 1998, Detroit 2004). Brown is known for coaching a lot of teams, and his critics will say he never could stay long because of his rigorous style that would burn people out. When I say a lot, I mean a lot – Nets, Spurs, Clippers, Pacers, 76ers, Pistons, Knicks and Bobcats (now Hornets). Coach Brown doesn’t deny he is hard on players but believes they know it was always out of faith in their ability.
I hope players know the difference between coaching and criticism.
Be as it may, one thing is for sure – he coached a lot of great players. When you look at all those NBA teams he coached, most of them had one of their iconic players play for Coach Brown. David Thompson, Bobby Jones, David Robinson, Reggie Miller, Chauncey Billups, to name a few. When a coach with such a resume says Allen Iverson is the greatest athlete he’s ever been around has a significant weight to it. Their relationship was a difficult one, a tough coach and a stubborn superstar didn’t work smoothly together, but when they managed to reach an understanding, the product on the court was amazing.
There wasn’t one day that I went into work that I didn’t expect the unexpected with him.
They argued consistently, and Iverson was challenging to manage, but now it seems they hold each other in the highest regards. Brown believes Iverson used about 90% of his talents and that the league rejected the last 10% at the end of his career. He shared a story of how he tried to bring AI to Charlotte when he was coaching there 2008 – 2010, but Jordan didn’t agree with the idea.
I wanted to bring him to Charlotte and Michael admired Allen, and Allen loved Michael, but Michael said “Larry, if we bring him back you’re gonna play him ahead of some of these young kids, and that’s gonna prohibit our progress”; and he was right
One can understand MJ’s logic, but when you look at the roster and young kids they had at the time, DJ Augustin and Gerald Henderson only could’ve learned something from AI. Especially taking into account that in the sunset of his career Iverson realized how his behavior hurt his career and that is the perfect veteran presence in the locker room. Coach Brown pointed out he never had issues with Iverson in private; there were only tense situations in front of other people – a sign it was mostly pride that got the best of him at time.
A superstar past his prime, a true icon of the game. He can talk to young kids about the mistakes he made and help them not to make those same mistakes. When you hear Iverson talk about coach Brown, you see the maturity he could’ve brought to a locker room.
I wish … I don’t regret anything. I love being who I am; I love the person that I am; I feel comfortable in my skin. But if I could have a wish, as an athlete, I wish I would’ve bought into what he was trying to give me all along. Just being defiant, being a certified assh— for nothing when all he wanted was the best for me, and I didn’t take constructive criticism the way I should have. To me, in my eyes, that’s the best coach ever.
It’s a shame AI never got the last season Kobe, Dirk and Wade did. But he still impacted the culture of the league from his era forward and is appreciated wherever he goes. Maybe a preseason game with coach Brown and AI against the currents Sixers wouldn’t be all that bad.