Brown's return to Knicks' bench this year uncertain
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.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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