Charlotte Bobcats: Larry "Tinker" Brown Is Doing Things His Way
Larry Brown is the very defintion of a nomad.
His NBA wanderlust has taken him from L.A. to New York, and somewhere in between he managed to win a title with the Detroit Pistons. Brown inherited a Piston team that took him only two years to get that championship.
He nearly won a second in his third year, but his former team, the San Antonio Spurs, robbed him of back-to-back titles.
But the Piston coaching job was not his best, because they were already a top echelon team.
Brown's biggest accomplishment was guiding the hapless Los Angeles Clippers to the playoffs in consecutive years. As usual, owner Donald Sterling had to meddle, and Brown packed his bags and left.
Let's hope Sterling doesn't cause this year's No. 1 pick Blake Griffin to bolt after his rookie contract. But I digress.
Brown's passion is developing players, and it is rare to find an NBA coach who teaches the nuances of the game like he does.
Brown works with what he is given until he can influence the game off the court. He is the only coach in NBA history to take seven different teams to the playoffs.
One team had a single viable offensive threat: The Philadelphia 76ers with Allen Iverson. That year, they lost to a Shaq and Kobe-led Laker team.
His quest for his idea of basketball's "Holy Grail," the perfect game, is never-ending. His constant trade requests drives management to distraction.
But Brown is finally coaching a team where he has complete control of personnel decisions: The Charlotte Bobcats. And now he only has five players left from last year's opener on the roster.
His recent one-for-one trade that sent Emeka Okafur to New Orleans in exchange for Tyson Chandler proves that management is behind him. His reason for the trade was that Okafur is too rigid in his playing of the game, whereas Chandler is a more mobile and active defender. To Brown, It didn't matter that Okafur is the more polished offensive player.
Brown also does not let personal feelings get in the way of evaluating players.
Brown's longevity, flexibility, and knowledge of the game has allowed him to weather the changes of the NBA landscape.
He will walk away from a contract, like he did in L.A., to uphold his principles.
Yet, more often or not, his basketball instincts are correct about the player he is evaluating.
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