At 77, Larry Brown is going back to coaching – as an assistant.
Basketball Hall of Famer and noted UNC alum Larry Brown attended the 50-year reunion of Carolina’s three straight Final Four teams from 1967-69. Brown coached the freshmen for two years while serving as an assistant to Dean Smith.
Brown went back to playing in the old ABA, where they used that funny red-white-and-blue ball and introduced the three-point shot to basketball. Then, Brown embarked on a peripatetic pro coaching career with two college stops along the way, taking UCLA to the national championship game in 1980 and Kansas to the NCAA title in ’88.
By leading the Detroit Pistons to the 2004 NBA championship, Brown became the only coach to win it all in college and pro basketball. He has millions in the bank and homes in the Hamptons and Malibu. So why does Brown, who will turn 78 this September, still want to coach?
Simply put, coaching is in his blood. This ageless wonder admitted during the anniversary weekend that retirement is boring him to death. He observes college and pro teams and gives their coaches his feedback, but he misses the action of the games and – more so – the teaching of daily practice.
Recruited to UNC by Frank McGuire, having played and coached under Smith and a sponge for picking up nuances of the game, Brown has long been considered one of the best pure basketball coaches on the planet. He might have been Carolina’s coach during the period between Smith and Roy Williams, but it did not work out for various reasons. Last year, he almost took a high school job on Long Island for the love of coaching.
Now, the hot rumor is that Brown will join the staff of Penny Hardaway, the new head coach at the University of Memphis. This could be perfect for Brown, since Hardaway is not an established coach but has contacts with the best high school and AAU teams in the country. Brown does not want to go recruiting, so he will teach his newest team how to play at practice while Hardaway lures top talent to Memphis.
During games, he will use his extensive experience to tell Penny when it’s a good idea to take a TO — and more.