College - North Carolina
Larry Brown’s long coaching odyssey has finally reached its most appropriate and symbolic destination.
The fourth-winningest coach in NBA history and universally acclaimed as one of the greatest teachers the sport has ever known, the Basketball Hall of Famer returned to his native Big Apple when he was named the 22nd head coach of the New York Knickerbockers on Jul. 27, 2005.
In adding the latest chapter to one of the game’s legendary careers, Brown joins the Knicks following a two-year stretch with the Detroit Pistons which resulted in back-to-back Eastern Conference Championships and an NBA World Championship in 2004.
“Larry Brown is not just one of the best coaches in the NBA today, but in its history,’ says Knicks President, Basketball Operations Isiah Thomas. “He has made every team he has ever coached a winner, with a legendary approach to teaching and motivating his players. His value to us as a franchise at this time is immeasurable.”
“I look forward to coaching this team; I look forward to working with Isiah,” says Brown. “I think it’s an unbelievable responsibility to our sport, coaching in New York, because the fans are probably the most knowledgeable, or as knowledgeable as any team in the League. If you play the right way, being in this environment, you help our sport, and I don’t take that lightly. I look forward to the challenge. I know it’s not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile is supposed to be easy.”
Brown comes to the Knicks with an honor-laden resume reflecting 33 years of head coaching experience on both the pro and college levels, capped with his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
With an all-time NBA coaching record of 987-741 (.571), Brown is fourth on the all-time NBA win list, trailing only Lenny Wilkens (1,332), Don Nelson (1,190) and Pat Riley (1,110). His all-time NBA Playoff mark of 100-89 (.529) places him third all-time in League post-season wins behind Phil Jackson (175) and Riley (155).
The 2001 IBM NBA Coach of the Year with the Philadelphia 76ers, Brown was also honored three times as the ABA’s Coach of the Year (1973 with Carolina, 1975 and 1976 with Denver). Larry has been a head coach in two NBA All-Star Games, winning each time (1977 at Milwaukee, 2001 at Washington), and is an eight-time NBA Coach of the Month selection (League or Conference; most recently in February 2005 with Detroit). Brown is also the only head coach in basketball history to win both an NCAA Championship (Kansas 1988) and an NBA title (Detroit 2004).
In 22 seasons as an NBA head coach, Brown has guided his teams to eight 50+ win seasons, seven divisional titles, three Conference Championships (Philadelphia in 2001, Detroit in 2004 and 2005) and one World Championship with the Pistons in 2004. He has led his team to the Playoffs in 17 of his 22 NBA seasons.
The eight different pro teams that Brown coached prior to coming to New York averaged an improvement of 8.9 wins over the season prior to his arrival. And each of those teams has followed a credo that has become synonymous with Brown: Playing the Right Way.
“I’ve grown up playing for some incredible coaches, and I don’t think anybody’s ever been as fortunate as I have in terms of the people I’ve been allowed to play under, coach under, or be involved with,” says Brown. “And they all kind of had the same philosophy: You’ve got to share the ball, or play unselfishly. You’ve got to try to guard, make an effort to defend to the best of your ability. You have to rebound the ball, which was an area that was so critical. And they wanted to you play smart and have fun. I’ve kind of tried to let our people understand those are the most important things that I could possibly tell them.”
In an NBA coaching career that began in 1976-77, Brown has piloted the Denver Nuggets, New Jersey Nets, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons. Prior to that, he coached for four seasons in the old American Basketball Association with the Carolina Cougars (two seasons) and Denver (two seasons). Brown’s 229-107 (.682) ABA coaching mark - the fifth-highest win total in League history - gives him an overall professional record of 1,216-848 (.589).
The 65-year-old Brooklyn-native has enjoyed similar success in the college ranks, compiling a 177-61 (.744) career mark in seven collegiate seasons with UCLA (1979-80 through 1980-81) and the University of Kansas (1983-84 through 1987-88). He led UCLA to the 1980 NCAA title game, and in 1988 piloted Kansas to its first National Championship in 36 years.
In Olympic competition, Brown was the head coach of the bronze medal-winning Unites States team at the 2004 Athens Games. He was an assistant coach for the 1980 Olympic squad that did not participate in the Moscow Games, and for the 2000 team that won the gold medal in Sydney. As a player, Brown won a gold medal as a member of the 1964 U.S. squad at the Tokyo Games, averaging 4.1 ppg during the nine-game tournament. He is the only US.. male to both play and coach in the Olympics.
Before turning to coaching, Brown enjoyed a five-year playing career in the ABA, averaging 11.2 points. A three-time ABA All-Star, Brown was a member of the 1969 ABA Champion Oakland Oaks. He dished off an all-time ABA record 23 assists for Denver against Pittsburgh on Feb. 20, 1972. As player and coach, Brown was a part of the ABA for all nine seasons of the league’s existence.
After graduating from Long Beach (NY) High School, Brown averaged 11.8 points at the University of North Carolina. Brown’s older brother Herb is also a longtime NBA and college coach, and served on Larry’s staff in Detroit.
Born in Brooklyn on Sep. 14, 1940, Brown and his wife Shelly reside with their son L.J. (10) and daughter Madison (7). The avid golfer also has two daughters, Kristen and Alli, and five grandchildren.