Larry Brown went on Dan Patrick’s show this morning and attacked the Charlotte Bobcats team he coached from 2008 until December of 2010, when Michael Jordan decided to let him go. Rick Bonnell, one of the best (newspaper beat guys) around, brought Brown’s quips about the ‘Cats—and more specifically, team owner Michael Jordan—to everyone’s attention in the Charlotte Observer:
"“He’s around people who don’t have a clue.
He had people around me that made me sick.’
It was almost like they were spies wondering what we were doing and getting back to him.
A coach, a GM and a president all have to be attached at the hip.’”
Never one to back down from challenges, Michael Jordan decided to grant Bonnell an exclusive (I told you he was one of the best around), in which the GOAT defends his time as Bobcats owner, and answer’s Brown’s pithy take-down of the organization he runs:
“‘It’s absolutely wrong that I don’t want guys to challenge me. And the people who say that aren’t in the room,’ Jordan told the Observer.
'The idea that people can’t do that is just wrong. Curtis (Polk, team vice chairman) has worked with me for over 20 years and he’s never had a problem telling me, ‘no.’ Rod (Higgins, president of basketball operations) has no problem telling me no. Fred (Whitfield, team president) has no problem telling me ‘no.’ And Rich (Cho, the team’s general manager) is about as direct and candid a person as you’ll ever meet.'”
Perhaps the best takeaway during this back-and-forth in the pages of the Charlotte Observer, was Kelly Dwyer at The Basketball Jones. Dwyer reminded his readers of Brown’s longtime acrimony with the general managers, team presidents and owners that employed him during his 14 years as a head coach in the NBA. That behavior didn’t somehow stop when he left the head coaching ranks two years ago. In Charlotte, it was more of the same, and Brown (a very erudite guy) had to see the organization’s faults before signing on. Here’s how Dwyer ends his post:
Larry Brown knew what he was doing when he cashed in that last chance, a desperate coach signing on with a desperate team. For him to act as if his turn with the Bobcats ended up anywhere beyond what was expected is just face-saving, and kicking an owner and franchise when they’re down.
The Bobcats deserve to be down. They haven’t planned nor participated well since entering the NBA in 2004. Michael Jordan deserves every bit of criticism that has been levied at him.
Not this batch, though. Not Larry Brown’s take.
And that’s what’s so fascinating about this story. Why is Brown throwing MJ and the Bobcats organization under the bus now; when he’s just signed on to coach at Southern Methodist Unversity? Michael Jordan has been criticized—most recently by Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Rick Telander—and should be criticized for his awful job as an owner, but why is Brown doing it? What does he have to gain?
Larry Brown is not your typical NBA coach. He’s always looking for something better. He’s never stayed very long in one place; he’s a coaching vagabond that’s never formed any real, lasting partnerships with the people who employ him. Charlotte, as Dwyer points out, was his last chance in the NBA. His time with Isiah and the Knicks and the way things ended after an incredible run in Detroit, just meant GM’s and owners were done with him. Jordan threw him a bone to coach the Bobcats, and Brown snapped at him anyway (and they’re both Tarheels!). That’s why Brown, the only coach in history to win an NCAA title and an NBA title, is the head coach at SMU now.
Maybe Brown was just ticked off, and saw the Bobcats record (7-57 and two losses from the worst record in NBA history) and decided to take some potshots because he was coaching in the Conference USA instead of the NBA. Regardless of why, he did. It’s a shame too. Charlotte needed some good pub right now. This isn’t it.
[I wrote 1000 words on Larry Brown and Michael Jordan’s back and forth, but like Time Warner, Tumblr wanted to take a big dump on my head today. Hopefully, I summarized that post as best as possible, but DAMN-it was a good post. I just wanted you to know.]