When head coach Larry Brown left the Bobcats on Wednesday afternoon, stepping down from a team that's started this season at a dismal 9-19, a lot of fans in Charlotte were probably relieved. The Bobcats have been a disappointment this season after making the playoffs last spring, and it was time for a change.
But around the NBA, Brown's fellow coaches were saddened to hear of the 70-year-old's departure from his ninth NBA team. Brown is the trunk of all coaching trees, and his exit in Charlotte sent waves of disappointment through the league.
"I have a great relationship with Larry, so it's tough," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who played for Brown on the Clippers in 1991-92. "He's a great coach. It's a tough one. It's a tough business, as we learn way too much."
Brown has won titles at virtually every level of basketball, most recently capturing his first and only NBA championship ring with the Pistons in 2004. He's earned a lot of admirers along the way.
"Larry's one of the all-time great coaches," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "The guy's won an NBA championship, an NCAA championship, he was a great point guard at Carolina, he won an Olympic championship, he was an Olympic coach — he's done it all. He's opened a lot of doors for coaches like myself, because any time former players stepped in and did well as coaches, it gave other former players a chance to do that same thing."
Brown played for five seasons in the ABA before beginning his head-coaching career at Davidson College in 1972. He went on to coach for over three decades in the NBA, leading the Nuggets, Nets, Spurs, Clippers, Pacers, Sixers, Pistons and Knicks before finally arriving in Charlotte in 2008.
"From Larry's standpoint, I'm happy for him," Collins said of the end of Brown's stint in Charlotte. "It didn't end great for him in New York, but for him to get a chance to go to Charlotte and take them to their first-ever postseason, I think probably was a good thing for him."