As the 76ers ponder their weekend interview with head coaching candidate Doug Collins and Larry Brown ponders his potential future in Philadelphia, Sixers fans should take a moment to reflect as well.
After another disappointing season, it seems only logical to scoop up the highly successful Brown and allow him to put us back onto the postseason path. After all, Larry Brown has brought eight different teams into the NBA’s second season. He is the only coach to boast both an NCAA and NBA title, and he led the Sixers to their most recent Finals appearance in 2001. So considering the Sixers current standing, it would seem silly not to pursue a coach with such credentials. However, the decision is not as clear cut as it seems, and serious consideration is required by the Sixers brass and fans alike before bringing back the well-traveled teacher.
Larry Brown is an excellent coach. That is not up for debate. He is even considered by some, such as franchise icon Allen Iverson, as “the best coach in the world;” a strong compliment coming from someone notorious for clashing with the coach in the past. So, the questions surrounding the Sixers in this decision do not have to do with Larry’s credentials or coaching ability, but rather his commitment and whether he is the right fit for this young struggling squad.
With no momentum to build upon and a glaring void in the requisite “superstar” department, the Sixers are clearly in rebuilding mode, and require a coach ready to tackle such a task. The Sixers recent run of musical coaches has hampered the team, and stability in the coaching position is crucial in order for the team to return to success. It may take several seasons to straighten the ship that is the Sixers, and it seems sound to secure a coach who is in it for the long haul; that’s not one of Larry’s strong suits.
Throughout his career Brown has always been notorious for short coaching stints and since the turn of the century that reputation has not improved — he’s served as the headman for four different NBA squads. Although there is no denying the success Larry has attained at most of his stops, the last thing the Sixers need is another short-stinted coach. Success doesn’t necessarily motivate Larry to stay either, as evidenced by his abrupt departure from Detroit, and his apparent willingness to entertain other offers after two successful seasons in Charlotte. If the Sixers were going to bring Brown back one must wonder if the nomadic brown would be willing to dedicate several seasons to fixing the franchise, or would he quickly bore of the task as he has in the past?
Another area of concern regarding a potential reunion between the Sixers and the acclaimed coach is Larry’s noted distaste for young players. Larry often tends to bury young bodies on the bench, preferring to rely on proven veterans. While this method has garnered him success, it would not work well with the current state of the Sixers, which is characterized by a youth movement. Several prominent players on the squad, such as Lou Williams, Marreese Speights, Jrue Holiday, and Thaddeus Young, have less than a handful of years experience in the League. Additionally, the Sixers as we all know have a lottery pick this year, and given LB’s track record with rookies and minutes (or lack of), that TBD youngster probably wouldn’t see much tick in 2010-11 either. So one must ask, would hiring Larry jeopardize the development of the Sixers younger players and thus the future of the franchise?
The Sixers squad is in desperate need of a shake-up, and Larry Brown could certainly help push the team back to prominence. His ability and accolades speak for themselves, and he has already proven to Philadelphians that he knows what it takes to win in the notoriously tough town. However, it is important to consider his foibles before fantasizing about a potential return to Philly. Going with a head coach who isn’t in it for the long haul and favors veteran players over young guys could spell disaster for an already floundering franchise. Unfortunately those items — extended commitments and coaching youth movements — have not proven to be Larry’s strengths.
Thus it seems the best advice available to the Sixers regarding Larry Brown is: Proceed with caution or as some of us here at Philadunkia believe, not at all.