NBA: Brown looks good to Marbury now
By Brian Mahoney
GREENBURGH, N.Y. ó Bring back Larry Brown?
Stephon Marbury won’t go that far. He disliked playing for his old coach, but at least he got into games, a much better situation than he now faces with the New York Knicks.
“He’s really tough on his point guards, as we all know, but looking back at the last two years, I kind of liked Larry Brown,” Marbury said after mostly watching practice Tuesday. “So I’m like, ‘Man, I wish this guy was here to drill me now.”‘
Marbury was laughing, something he’s rarely done during an already difficult season. He’s out of new coach Mike D’Antoni’s rotation and will remain inactive for the foreseeable future, unless the Knicks waive him or can find an unlikely trade.
So he’ll watch from the bench Wednesday when New York hosts the Charlotte Bobcats in Brown’s first game back on the sidelines at Madison Square Garden since the Knicks fired him 21/2 years ago.
And with a Marbury controversy and a losing team that only makes news off the court, Brown will find the Knicks much as he left them.
Marbury and Brown feuded, which had more to do with Brown’s firing than the Knicks’ 23-59 record. So did Brown’s unauthorized roadside interviews with the media, his complaints about the roster ó which have continued in Charlotte ó and his public criticisms of his players.
Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan hates negative headlines, and Brown created plenty of them. So he was fired after just one season, even with a Hall of Fame track record of improving every team he coached.
“I thought that’s why they hired me,” Brown said in Charlotte after practice. “But there were a lot of circumstances involved that I had no control over, except I was the coach. And if Mr. Dolan decided that he needed to do better, what can you do? That’s why I don’t want to dwell. He obviously had his reasons. Yeah, it’s disappointing to ever fail at anything.”
Brown, a Brooklyn native who admired Red Holzman’s championship teams in New York, was hired to much fanfare in 2005 after leading the Detroit Pistons to consecutive NBA finals and one championship. But the Knicks started slowly and it wasn’t long before they were only interesting for what he’d say or do next.
Shortly after former team president Isiah Thomas said Brown would return for a second season, reports surfaced that Dolan wanted to buy out the coach. Brown remained in limbo, shunned by his bosses yet still required to show up for work, and called himself a “dead man walking” during one interview with reporters on the side of the road near the Knicks’ practice facility.
That was in violation of MSG’s media policy requiring a public relations official to be present during interviews, so Dolan cited that act and others when he fired Brown “for cause” and tried to withhold the remainder of his salary. Commissioner David Stern mediated and Brown settled for $18.5 million ó less than half what he was owed in the final four years of his deal.
Walsh previously said he was “unclear” why Marbury wasn’t playing, creating speculation of friction with D’Antoni in Tuesday’s tabloids. D’Antoni strongly denied a rift, telling reporters: “Don’t waste your ink.”
“The reason I came to New York was because of Donnie and he did hire me,” D’Antoni said. “So I would think after three games, I don’t think he’s disillusioned and I’m definitely not disillusioned, so I think it’s a little bit premature right now.”
Brown’s picture still hangs near the Knicks’ locker room at MSG on a wall honoring the organization’s members of the basketball Hall of Fame. Williams believes Brown will be successful in Charlotte, and so does that old thorn in the coach’s side.
“Just because you’re a Hall of Famer, that don’t mean you can’t have a bad spell in your career,” said Marbury, who also played for Brown in the 2004 Olympics. “Everyone hits a bad spell and eventually you will get to where you’re trying to go.”