Brown almost a Celtic
Hall of Fame coach offered assistant's job in Boston
Posted: Friday September 21, 2007 5:53PM; Updated: Friday September 21, 2007 5:53PM
The Boston Celtics had already traded for Ray Allen and were on the verge of acquiring Kevin Garnett, yet coach Doc Rivers had one more coup in mind. This summer he almost hired Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown to join the Celtics as his lead assistant, SI.com has learned.
"The way we left it, I told Doc I was 90 percent sure I was coming," says Brown. But Brown changed his mind after discussing the Boston offer with 76ers owner Ed Snider, who convinced Brown to remain as executive VP in charge of basketball.
A league source confirms that Boston had offered Brown the job as an assistant to Rivers, who has two fully-guaranteed years remaining on his contract with the Celtics. At the time Rivers was telling other prospective assistants that he was on the verge of hiring a mystery candidate whose name he couldn't divulge.
When Brown said no to Rivers in July -- shortly before the blockbuster trade that delivered Garnett to Boston -- the Celtics filled the position by signing Tom Thibodeaux, the highly-regarded longtime assistant to Jeff Van Gundy.
Coming off the Celtics' 24-win season, it says something about Rivers' self-assurance that he was willing to hire Thibodeaux, who is seen as a future head coach in the NBA, as well as Brown, who has been nothing but a head coach during his 23-year professional career.
"I would have loved it," says Brown, who coached Rivers with the Los Angeles Clippers in 1991-92. "I'm really close to Doc and I have lot of respect for him. I thought that would be a great opportunity. I miss the coaching and teaching, not so much the games.
"He just felt that he wanted me there to help. If you look at our league now, it is about young kids and teaching young kids. That's just the way our league has changed."
The courtship also demonstrates how desperate Brown is to return to coaching after being fired for his 23-win season with the Knicks in '05-06.
"I think I have a lot to offer," says Brown, 67. "I had the one terrible year. You don't want it to end like that. If you look at the body of work, I love coaching and that's the only thing I know how to do. At this time of my life I'm not ready to retire."