Brown to talk to Williams on Monday
NEW YORK -- Larry Brown's children were running around their house wearing Knicks gear sent by Isiah Thomas while their 64-year-old unemployed father was preparing to take another look at the pros-and-cons list he and his wife had assembled the night before.
Brown was spending the weekend contemplating whether to become the head coach of the New York Knicks, and in a lengthy phone interview Saturday with The Associated Press he left a strong impression that he was leaning toward taking the job.
"How many opportunities like this present themselves? My family is here, my older kids have family here, I have an opportunity to work with someone in Isiah who's a special friend and a super person. There's a lot of real positive things," Brown said.
The next step could come as soon as Monday when Brown meets with interim Knicks coach Herb Williams, who has spent the spring and summer waiting to learn whether it will be himself, Brown or Phil Jackson coaching the Knicks when training camp opens.
A formal job offer would likely come after Brown met with owner James Dolan and Madison Square Garden president Steve Mills, and his entire job-switching process could be completed in a matter of nine to 10 days.
First, though, Brown wants to be completely at peace with his decision.
And that will not come until he speaks further with his wife, Shelly, to make sure she fully concurs with a career choice that would thrust her husband back into the coaching grind that his doctors have warned him might not mesh with his health problems.
"I've got to get Shelly and the kids onboard and see what's in everybody's best interest," Brown said. "Isiah being there is such a plus, and Shelly has always said it would be great to bring up the kids in the East. But I don't know. The last 2½ weeks have been so tough."
Brown spent Saturday morning playing golf in a country-club match play tournament, advancing to the semifinals after using a birdie-par-par finish to get through his 19-hole quarterfinal the previous day.
He has been sailing in the waters off Long Island and spending quality time with his two young children, T.J. and Madison, while trying to get past the feelings of rejection and betrayal that accompanied his acrimonious departure from the Detroit Pistons earlier in the week.
Brown sounded as miffed about the circumstances of his own departure as he was with the dismissal of his secretary, video coordinator and assistant coaches, but he also finds himself realizing that the hurt will have long since worn off six months from now.
"I really did have two fabulous years, and whatever happened afterward happened. I'm OK that way, it's just that you don't like to feel like you're a failure and you don't like your kids to hear you were 'let go,"' Brown said. "Moving kids across the country is tough, and I want to make sure we don't ever have to do that again."
Brown said his children were feeling especially comfortable in their summer home in East Hampton, N.Y., experiencing a sense of relief with the knowledge they'll be living in that home for the rest of the calendar year.
Brown also chatted about the particulars of living in suburban Westchester County, where the Knicks have their practice facility and where he'd purchase a home if he decided to take the job. He also sounded eager to speak to many of the players he'd be coaching.
One of them, Stephon Marbury, left a phone message for Brown early Saturday after giving an interview on a local sports radio station Friday and endorsing the possible hiring of the 64-year-old coach he clashed with at last summer's Olympics.
"Larry brings something totally different to the table because of his experience, and everyone knows experience rules. So for him to be the coach, it'd be great," Marbury said.
One of his wife's concerns was her belief that Brown might not get the extended period of rest his doctors want him to have. His wife was worried, Brown said, that if he accepts the job by the end of July he'd spend August and September badgering Thomas with ideas on how to improve the Knicks.
When that concern was raised with Thomas during a 4-hour summit meeting between the two men Friday night, Thomas told Brown that the natural NBA downtime in August and September should provide more than enough time to relax and rejuvenate. Brown also told his wife if he turns down the Knicks, it'll only be a matter of days before another NBA team or college program comes knocking at his door with the next big job opportunity.
"I didn't have a Plan B. Everything has changed so quickly. These last couple of weeks have been kind of difficult to sort everything out and look ahead," Brown said. "I love to coach, and that's what I'd like to do. But still it's a huge decision."
So while Brown ponders his future, Knicks fans around the New York area are hanging on his every word. When they run into him on the street, they all ask if he's coming.
Brown has even found himself a target of the paparazzi.
"I was taking my garbage out last night, and there was a guy sitting in a car across the street taking my picture," Brown said.
The photo, complete with a clearly distinguishable look of surprise on Brown's face, ran Saturday in the New York Post under the headline "Leisure Larry."
But that period of leisure will have a very brief shelf life.
Come Monday, the process moves forward.
Brown wants to make his decision sooner rather than later, and nearly everything he said Saturday left the clear impression that "Brown's Town" might just be the headline of choice across the back pages of the tabloids before the coming week is over.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press