SI Vault
 
'Where You Gonna Be Next Year, Larry?'
Gary Smith
November 12, 1984
The old question still haunts Larry Brown, though he's shown signs that coaching at Kansas could be the last stop in his odyssey
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
November 12, 1984

'where You Gonna Be Next Year, Larry?'

The old question still haunts Larry Brown, though he's shown signs that coaching at Kansas could be the last stop in his odyssey

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

COUSIN-IN-LAW SANDY: Oh. Are you sure?

UNCLE CHARLIE: That's right. But we never saw him even when he did come back.

AUNT EVA: Well, he never was close to anyone....

On a Flying Tigers cargo flight heading east from Los Angeles, Brown sat and cooed assurance to his two black Labrador retrievers. If they could have talked, they would have told Aunt Eva she was wrong. Larry Brown loved them, and both dogs knew it. "Win or lose," he says, "they'd look at you the same way every day."

The Nets staggered to a 3-12 start, and the New Jersey owners didn't look at him the way the Labradors did.

"Threaten his job?" says owner Joe Taub. "Fifteen games into a four-year contract, you think we were going to threaten his job?"

"They didn't have to say it," says Brown. "They questioned my coaching."

Rashes appeared on his arms, veins swelled on his forehead. "Sometimes, when I saw those veins in the middle of games," says Nets forward Buck Williams, "I thought it would be like that movie Scanners—that his head would explode and his brains come out."

After that 3-12 beginning, his young team won 41 of the next 67 games, then followed with 49-33 his second year. But there was something about life with an NBA team on a swamp off a freeway exit in North Jersey that was all wrong. Crowds were small and silent, except for hecklers who sensed Brown's thin skin. No one seemed to recognize him away from the arena. His wife loved attending Fordham University, driving into New York City, seeing a show, visiting a museum or a gallery, eating at a great restaurant and losing herself in a crowd. Her husband had never felt more detached.

At least, thank god, he had Buck.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14