Larry Brown Still Mulling Uncertain Future, Enjoying the Playoffs
Nearly two weeks later, it's clear that one priority is outweighing the other.
In a phone interview with FanHouse from his suburban Philadelphia home on Monday, the undecided Brown said he remains as torn as ever over the gap between his personal and professional lives and hardly sounded as if a resolution was imminent.
"I said after the season that I was going to visit with my family and figure out what direction I wanted to go in," he said. "I've got a 15-year-old son, a daughter who's 13. They're in Philly and I'm in Charlotte and it's been tough being away from them. I miss them, and I don't want them to grow up not having me."
When asked specifically about the reported possibility of his joining the Sixers as team president, coach or perhaps even both, the game's most notorious nomad said he has had no contact with the team.
"I haven't talked to anybody," Brown said. "The only person I talked to is (Bobcats owner) Michael (Jordan). I basically told him what I told you. I love my job. I love working for him. But I'm just having a real difficult time being away from my family. ... I'm going to sit down with (his wife) Shelly, to talk to her and my family."
While the family matters are a significant aspect of Brown's deliberations, Philadelphia's lack of interest in Brown taking over for Ed Stefanski as team president is playing a part as well. Three sources with knowledge of the Sixers' thinking said that while Comcast CEO Ed Snider has considered firing Stefanski and even looked into at least one replacement candidate, he has no interest in the prospect of Brown filling that role and only wanted him as a coach.
By all appearances, Stefanski -- who is in the midst of an extensive coaching search after the firing of Eddie Jordan -- will remain. And Brown, who has said repeatedly that he will not coach for anyone other than Michael Jordan, won't likely be joining him.
Those close to Brown say his passion for coaching remains strong, but he's clearly wrestling with the idea of continuing to do so in his current locale. Asked if he was considering retirement, Brown said, "I'm not getting into that."
What he is getting into, however, is the playoffs.
Brown said he has kept track of the action since his Bobcats were swept by Orlando in the first round of their first-ever postseason berth. He watched the second round series between Phoenix and San Antonio even closer than the rest, as Brown has been a mentor for both Suns coach Alvin Gentry and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
"I was surprised Phoenix won in four straight," Brown said. "They played great. They've improved so much defensively it's incredible to me. And their bench, even though (it's depleted) with (center Robin) Lopez hurt, they played great.
"But you need to be deep to play against the Lakers (the Suns' Western Conference Finals opponent). (The Lakers') bench is great because have one of best players in league coming off the bench in (Lamar) Odom. The biggest key is how Phoenix can play without depth and size. (Jarron) Collins is going to have to give them some quality minutes. (Amar'e) Stoudemire has to stay out of foul trouble, and so does Channing Frye."
When Brown was informed that Lopez is expected to return for the start of the series, he said it was a significant addition.
"If he's available, that's huge," he continued. "They've been playing (Jared) Dudley a lot at the four position (power forward) at times, and the kid has done great job, but against (Pau) Gasol, (Andrew) Bynum and Odom, that's a huge order."
Brown, the 69-year-old who is still considered one of the game's all-time best in-game coaches, said the unenviable task of guarding the Lakers' Kobe Bryant will play a huge part.
"(Suns small forward) Grant Hill did a terrific job playing (the Spurs' Manu) Ginobili, but Dudley and Grant (Hill) are going to have to do a good job against Kobe," he said. "You're not going to shut him out, but you've got to make him earn his points."
Phoenix's cause is also aided, Brown said, because Suns point guard Steve Nash has improved defensively after so long being known as a liability on that end.
"Nash is defending better than I've ever seen him defend," Brown said. "That's the key in this league. When your point guard defends well, you've got a good chance. And I'm not trying to talk bad about somebody, but (Lakers point guard Derek) Fisher doesn't have the quickness and speed of (the Spurs') Tony Parker or (George) Hill or (Utah point guard) Deron (Williams) or people like that. (Fisher) might be easier for him to defend."
Coaching from his couch is enough for Brown right now, but it remains to be seen where his seat for next season will be.
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