That would be Larry Brown. The 67-year-old Hall of Famer, whose resume is thicker than an Ayn Rand novel and reads like a Rand-McNally atlas, will be accepting his 13th head coaching job in 36 years.
Quickly, then, the demographics of Brown's geographics: He has been an NCAA, ABA and NBA head coach in 10 different states within all four U.S. time zones across four decades. This is a man who belongs in both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the U-Haul of Fame.
Brown is already enshrined in the former — his bust should be rotated monthly to a different room within the Springfield, Mass., edifice — which explains why he keeps finding work. Brown, for most of his career, has been an excellent coach.
Larry Brown is the only person ever to win an NCAA championship (with Kansas, in 1988) and an NBA championship (with Detroit, in 2004). And, while it is rarely noted, he also lost an NCAA championship game (with UCLA, in 1980) and an NBA Finals (with the Pistons in 2005). He won an Olympic gold medal as a player in 1964 and lost face as the U.S.A.'s bronze-medal winning coach in 2004.
What can Brown do for you? Build a winning basketball team.
Then again, Brown is fickle. Capricious. Inexorably itinerant. By this time tomorrow his name will likely be linked to jobs in Dallas, Detroit and Phoenix. You don't have to be Encyclopedia Brown to deduce that.
Larry Brown goes through business cards the way Hugh Hefner does girlfriends, and while these jokes have all been made before, the difference is that lately no one has been sad to see him leave. With Team USA in Athens, Brown criticized the roster selections, of which he had no input (to be fair, I criticized them, too; it was a roster designed more to sell jerseys at the NBA store on Fifth Avenue than it was to win gold) and publicly berated his players.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
And then, yet again, Brown was gone. Jerry Sloan he is not.
Brown flourishes best in situations in which a general manager is both a shrewd judge of personnel and a decisive boss, making it clear to Brown, one of the best strategists this side of Hubie Brown (speaking of coaching legend Browns), that his job is X's and O's. That was not the situation with the Knicks, nor will it likely be with Charlotte, where general manager Michael Jordan once made Kwame Brown (speaking of well-traveled Browns) the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft.
The Bobcats are young and their general manager is both indifferent and a poor assessor of talent. What made Sam Vincent, whom Jordan hired just one year ago to coach the Bobcats, suddenly not good enough to be the franchise's head coach? On this day when the Miami Heat made Erik Spoelstra, 37, the youngest head coach in the league, the hiring of Brown, the league's second-oldest coach (four months younger than Don Nelson) is even more starkly pronounced as an exercise in regurgitation-via-lack-of-imagination.
If you paid attention in chemistry class, you may recall the term "Brownian Motion." This theory, named after botanist Robert Brown, describes "the random movement of particles suspended in a liquid or gas." So, there's Brownian Motion and then there's Larry Brownian Motion, which are nearly indistinguishable. For, Brownian motion purports that random forces may cause an object to move in various directions but that ultimately, on average, it should not move anywhere.
(Pickers of nit will remind you that Brown's coaching career actually began at Davidson, where he was hired in the summer of '72 ... and then left in the summer of '72 before ever coaching a game. And if that vignette does not scream "symbolic" to you, what will?)
Brown played college basketball at North Carolina. And he embarked on this Family Circus map of a career he's had in North Carolina. There will be some tempted to write that Brown is returning home. But home to Larry Brown has always been that small area between the baseline and midcourt where coaches live. That is the only home he knows.
It was yet another Browne, the musician Jackson, who once penned this lyric in what should be Larry Brown's theme song:
Phone calls long distance
To tell how you have been
Forget about the losses, you exaggerate the wins,
And when you stop to let 'em know,
You've got it down,
It's just another town along the road
The title of that song, "The Road," comes from Browne's classic 1977 album, "Running On Empty." An apt description for what Brown, the itchy-footed hardwood genius, has been doing lately. And in one last turn of dramatic irony, the final song on that album? "Stay."
Wherever Larry Brown is concerned, count on that not to happen.
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