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Report: Penny Hardaway Targeting Larry Brown to Join Memphis' Coaching Staff

Blake SchusterContributor IJune 10, 2021

Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Memphis Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway is trying to lure Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown back onto the sidelines, again. According to John Martin of The Athletic, Hardaway is hoping Brown will join him as an assistant coach after striking out on him three years ago.

John Martin @JohnMartin929

Memphis coach Penny Hardaway has once again targeted Hall-of-Fame coach Larry Brown to be a part of his staff as an assistant coach, according to sources. Brown, 80, is the only coach to have won an NBA title and NCAA Tournament.

CBS Sports' Gary Parrish reported in 2018 that then-Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen was "hesitant" to add Brown to Hardaway's staff after the former Kansas and NBA coach resigned at SMU in 2016 following an NCAA investigation into the program.

Brown was suspended for 30 percent of the Mustangs' season in 2015-16, and the program was banned from postseason play, after the NCAA cited Brown for failing to report academic fraud violations. He last coached with Auxilium Torino in 2018, but was fired from the Italian league following a 5-19 start to the season. 

Still the only head coach to win an NCAA title and NBA championship, the 80-year-old New Yorker hasn't served as a college assistant coach since working under Dean Smith at North Carolina from 1965-1967, though he's occasionally returned to KU—where he won the 1988 NCAA tournament—to unofficially sit in on practices.

Brown told Martin an offer from Memphis has been discussed for a while now, but nothing has been made official—even as Hardaway continued to pursue him. 

John Martin @JohnMartin929

I talked about Larry Brown on the show earlier this week. It’s been in the works for a while. Hardaway never stopped wanting Brown after encountering resistance from the previous administration in 2018. Brown would obviously bring unparalleled coaching acumen to Memphis.

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Brown briefly coached Hardaway from 2004-2006 when the two overlapped during stints with the New York Knicks. 

Hardaway, 49, led Memphis to an NIT title in 2021 but is just 63-32 in three seasons without an NCAA tournament appearance despite stellar recruiting classes. The program appeared on track for the 2020 tournament before it was canceled because of COVID-19 .

The head coach hopes the next time he takes the court, he has Brown by his side helping lead the charge to the Tigers' first Final Four since 2008. 

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