AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 15
-- Larry Brown had accomplished almost everything anyone can accomplish in the game of basketball.
Brown can now point to an NBA title on his résumé.|
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
His résumé is as deep as the Pistons' bench. Yet, even after winning an Olympic gold medal in 1964, winning an ABA title as a member of the Oakland Oaks in 1969, leading the University of Kansas to an NCAA title in 1988 and entering the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, people scanned Brown's extensive dossier and noted that it had a hole in it.
A huge hole.
In 22 years as an NBA coach, Brown's been the consummate teacher. Even Rasheed Wallace calls Brown "Pound-for-Pound" as in the best coach pound-for-pound. But Brown, who had made six previous stops in the NBA before landing in Detroit this season, has never placed an NBA championship ring on his finger.
Brown added the crown jewel to his considerable collection when his Detroit Pistons trounced the Los Angeles Lakers 100-87 in Game 5 of The Finals for his historic first NBA title.
Larry Brown, NBA champion. Has a nice ring to it.
"I haven't been through 48 minutes like that," Brown said of his first taste of an NBA title. "You know, I've always enjoyed the moment. The bigger the game, the more I enjoyed it, but the way this group came together, you know, with Rasheed [Wallace] coming late and losing quality people, this was a strange night. I had no idea what it would feel like. "
By winning the NBA title, Brown becomes the only head coach to win an NCAA title and NBA title. At age 62, Brown is the oldest coach to win an NBA title. Brown also took longer than any coach in NBA history, 22 years, to capture a crown, easily outpacing Red Auerbach (1957) and Bill Fitch (1981).
Brown also became the ninth coach in NBA history to win a title in his first year with a team. The last to do so was the man and team Brown helped defeat tonight, Phil Jackson, who did it with the Lakers in 2000. The win tonight also moved Brown into second place behind Jackson for most playoff wins for a coach, with 85.
"I haven't in my life had disappointments too many times coaching this game," Brown said. "I told them, you know, before the game, it would be a great statement if we had an opportunity to win because we do play the right way, and we are truly a team."
All season long, Brown preached about playing "the right way": defense, hustle and teamwork. For the Pistons and Brown, it all paid off.
So, Brown's résumé , already full, is complete. Of course, winning one only whets the appetite and begs the question: Can you do it again?
But before that can happen, Brown could add another impressive first this summer when he will coach the Men's U.S. Olympic basketball team in Athens. He could become the first man to win an Olympic gold medal as a player and as a coach.
That would cap quite a year and quite a resume. Brown said he'll need time to let it all sink in.
"I remember Chuck Daly told me something one day," Brown said of the other Pistons coach to win an NBA title, "that when you finally do win one, you won't appreciate it until you're driving down the highway one day and you'll get a big grin on your face.
"I had that feeling when I coached Kansas later on. I'm sure I'm going to have it now. "