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Brown's return to Knicks' bench this year uncertain

4/15/2006 - New York Knicks

NEW YORK -- Larry Brown did not coach Friday night in the
Knicks' 97-80 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks because of a stomach
ailment, and it wasn't known if he would be back on the bench at
all this season.

Brown was hospitalized in Cleveland on Thursday night after
becoming ill during the Knicks' 91-87 loss to the Cavaliers. The
Knicks released a statement Friday saying the 65-year-old coach was
on his way back to New York but assistant Herb Williams would run
the team against the Bucks.

"However, he is fully cleared to return to the bench when he
feels ready," the statement said.

The Knicks provided no other details before the game, including
whether Brown would coach the rest of the season.

"More importantly than that, his health is the No. 1 issue,"
guard Jamal Crawford said. "If he can, if there's any way he can
be back, I'm sure he will. But we need him to get healthy."

It was the first game Brown has missed this season. He was also
hospitalized in Memphis in February with chest pains, but was back
on the bench in time for the next game.

Williams, who coached New York for 43 games last season after
Lenny Wilkens resigned, said the Knicks would remain focused
despite Brown's absence.

"The players understand they have to play a basketball game,"
Williams said. "Everything has to go on as normal. This is our
job, this is what we get paid to do."

The Knicks play again Sunday at Detroit -- where Brown coached
the last two seasons -- before closing with a home game Monday
against Charlotte and at New Jersey on Wednesday. Williams said
Brown's return would be, "up to coach and how he feels," but
Stephon Marbury said he wants Brown to come back if he can.

"I hope so," said Marbury, who has feuded with Brown this
season. "We need him right now, we've been playing really good
basketball."

Brown began complaining of an upset stomach that forced him to
retreat to the locker room late in the third quarter Thursday
night. He was taken from Quicken Loans Arena on a stretcher
following the game, but appeared alert and was sitting upright with
oxygen tubes in his nose as he was wheeled to an emergency vehicle.

While coaching the Pistons last season, Brown missed 17 games
after having a hip replaced. That operation led to a bladder
problem that required surgery in November. Brown needs more surgery
for the bladder problem, but he's putting that off until after the
season.

Brown's health issues had him thinking about not coaching after
last season. But the New York native couldn't pass up a chance to
the Knicks, who hired him as their 22nd coach on July 27, 2005.