While monitoring Larry Brown's reported interest (and, yes, of course it's true) in leaving his coaching gig with the Charlotte Bobcats to run the Philadelphia 76ers, I was reminded why Geoff Petrie refused to interview the Hall of Famer for the Kings vacancy three years ago. Petrie, who is a very conservative, conventional in all manners of life, was put off by Brown's frequent travels, his tendency to meddle in personnel matters, and his undeniable charisma. Let's face it. When Larry is anywhere in your zip code, he commands your attention. The latest developments out of Charlotte suggest the 69-year-old coach is nothing if not consistent. In his In two years with the Bobcats, he has (a) overseen a dramatic improvement in the defense, (b) pushed for significant trades (obtaining Boris Diaw, Stephen Jackson, Tyson Chandler, etc.), (c) guided yet another team into the playoffs and (d) reportedly missed his wife and two young kids so much that he wants to return to Philadelphia as the 76ers boss.
This is sooooo Larry. Teams that hire him already know the statistics: In 25 years as an NBA head coach, he has averaged less than three years with nine teams. His previous six-year tenure with the organization was the longest of his NBA career, followed by his four seasons with the Indiana Pacers.
But about his coaching? This is why the Kings should have hired Brown when they had their chance: He has guided teams to records of .500 or better in 20 of his 25 seasons, won the title with the 2004 Detroit Pistons, reached the NBA Finals three times, and in his two season with the Clippers, threatened to legitimize a joke of a franchise. (Two years, two postseasons).
In other words, for all of his well-documented idiosyncracies and the serial drama, I'll take two or three years of Brown's brilliant teaching and coaching over the concept of hiring young, unproven coaches who, as the Kings can attest from experience, don't last anyway. Consider the recent lineup: Eric Musselman, Reggie Theus, Kenny Natt. Who'd ya rather? No slam against the young guys, but come on. Think of it as an intense, three-year fling. Brown is the best teacher and game strategist in the league. There also is something to be said for the fact that under Larry, players either develop or he badgers management into getting rid of them -- not necessarily a bad thing. It would have been fascinating to watch his handling of Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Donte Greene, Omri Casspi and Tyreke Evans, of whom he is a huge, huge fan. (That Philly connection, folks). Brown is notoriously is brutal on point guards, but Chauncey Billups emerged as a star under his demanding tutelage ....
Tyreke awaits word
While Tyreke Evans waited to accompany Urijah Faber into Arco Arena's for Saturday's WEC featherweight championship bout against Jose Aldo, quietly sitting off to the side on a stool, he insisted he wasn't nervously awaiting the Rookie of the Year results. "Nah, I don't care about that," he said. "I just want to win." But somewhat revealing - and I think this speaks to the fact that he remains a humble guy, still somewhat awed by his celebrity - when I introduced him to our deputy sports editor, he asked when the body-length poster he posed for was being distributed by The Bee. He seemed genuinely excited to hear that the poster was available the following day.
The knee issues
After watching cartilage damage shorten or ruin the careers of numerous NBA stars through the years, among them former Kings Chris Webber and the late Derek Smith, it was interesting to hear TNT's Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley question the wisdom of Brandon Roy's return one week after having his meniscus shaved. While recognizing that surgical techniques continue to improve, I agree with Kenny and Charles on taking a more conservative approach. Roy has a history of knee issues. He's young. His team is already crippled. The Blazers aren't gonig anywhere this season, except maybe, into the second round. So why even risk further injury to your best player?