Larry Brown has completely lost his marbles.[Listen to both the Brown and O’Neil interviews.]
He called in to the Jon and Sean Show on 97.5 The Fanatic to impart his long, contradictory, back when I was in charge thoughts on why the Sixers are doing it all wrong. ALL WRONG, I tell you! He sounded drunk and sleepy, like Frank Langella’s Richard Nixon when he called David Frost late at night in Frost-Nixon— just all rambly and weird. I used to love cheeseburgers, but Dr. Lungren switched me to cottage cheese and pineapple instead. He calls it my Hawaiian burger. But they don’t taste like burgers at all, they taste like Styrofoam. You need a George Lynch. To be honest, I’m not sure what point Brown (or Nixon) was trying to make. He of course brought up Mr. Snider, Allen Iverson, Aaron McKie, George Lynch and Eric Snow, as though they are some deities against which all future NBA successes and failures should be measured. Basically, Brown hates analytics, hates how whom he perceives as non-basketball guys are running the Sixers, hates how there’s a seven-year plan, and hates that he wasn’t invited back for Iverson’s retirement ceremony.
Brown seems to think that the Sixers’ use of analytics is somehow different from his own prescribed strategies for success – high draft picks, young players, stars, teaching – when, really, it’s not. To their credit, Jon and Sean pushed back hard on Brown, who was basically talking in circles. The Sixers, at the moment, don’t have an Allen Iverson or anything even close to an Allen Iverson, and the only way to get one is to be really bad and cross your fingers that you luck into the top pick in the draft (which is what Iverson was, in case Brown forgets that part). Brown kept talking about trying to get better now and in the future. But it doesn’t work that way in the NBA. The Sixers tried that for years. It invariably leads to mediocrity. It leads to Chris Webber and shit. It leads to Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller. The only time it worked is when the Sixers had one of the top three players in the league and a patchwork of lightning-in-a-bottle defenders and glue guys. Statistically speaking, that 2001 team’s success was unlikely, and they weren’t in a conference with LeBron James.
Brown criticized trading Jrue Holiday and the ever-medicore Thaddeus Young, but failed to acknowledge how Holiday turned into Nerlens Noel and made way Michael Carter-Williams, the NBA Rookie of the Year. When Sean pointed that out to Brown, he responded by proclaiming that you get better by teaching players and lamenting that no one has a “five or six or seven or eight-year plan in the NBA.”
“You can have a plan, but that’s a plan to save your ass,” Brown said. “To give yourself time.”
He even, weirdly, took aim at the Sixers’ new planned Camden practice facility, saying that they’re a “Philly team” and that a facility in Jersey will make it tough for players to stay late at night because of the longer commute home (and, presumably, because Camden).
But here’s the crux of Brown’s beef with the current Sixers regime:
“Eric Snow and George Lynch work for me, right? [The Sixers] are retiring Allen’s jersey– you know how close Allen and I are. He’s family to me. Yeah, we’ve had differences, but nobody loves him more than me, and I think he feels the same way. And his two favorite players besides Aaron McKie are George Lynch and Eric Snow. [The Sixers] didn’t even invite us back to his retirment ceremony. How is that?”
You did a video…
“Yeah… video. Detroit’s having a reunion of the 2004 team, and I don’t know how many times they’ve called me to ask me what day I would be available to go.”
O’Neil called in to respond a short time later:
“I know he handled himself better [on 97.5] than he did in the newspaper, and I agree with a lot of the stuff he said, particularly how much he loves Embiid, MCW, and Nerlens. Those are three guys that you build a foundation around, so I love that. I love what he said about the passion of the Philadelphia fans, we certainly experienced that every game last season and are excited about Saturday night to see that again.”
“Some of the other stuff, I quite frankly feel he’s in left field with a hockey stick.”
“The “basketball guy” comment is condescending and insulting on so many levels. And from a guy who I think is one of the best coaches to ever walk to sidelines, to be so naive on his read on a market from Dallas to Philadelphia surprises me.”
“It’s not that complicated. It’s not easy. Will there be missteps? Sure. Will every draft pick pan out? Of course not. But it’s a plan, and it starts with this foundation that we have. We have those three guys, we have Dario over in Turkey, and we have two [first rounders] coming up this year. To say that we’re not competing at the highest level is insulting.”
He also told a story about how Jeff Van Gundy taught Sam Hinkie very early on that a coach has to be able to manage people and not just players:
[That extra 2% edge is a direct reference to what we talked about earlier– The Extra 2%.]
“And so [Hinkie] sits down with Jeff and he says, “Umm, so coach what happened? We sat down and figured out that they’d have matchup problems with these five, and you took these two guys out and sat them on the bench?” Jeff says, “Well Sam, I looked at the bench and I had two guys there and I thought I would have lost if I didn’t put them in the game. I looked in their eyes and I got a three game road trip coming up and I figured if I didn’t get them in the game now, and get them feeling involved, I might lose them for the next three.” And Sam told me this story to show that he understands way beyond the 2% edge we get through analytics and data.”
On not inviting Larry to the retirement ceremony:
“Other than the email and call that he declined because he had an afternoon game. He is incorrect. We offered to fly them up — him and Eric and George — they actually could have made it, the timing would have been tight, but they opted to stay in Dallas.”
“I don’t blame him for that, it’s during the season, [SMU] had a nice year last year, and I know that they’re busy with their program. There’s no hard feelings about him not coming — they actually gave a really beautiful tribute that we played during the game that was really amazing. You know, that stuff happens. You’re planning an event around Allen and his family, some people can make it, some people can’t.”
A Larry Brown Night needs to happen. And by that I mean, Scott O’Neil and Larry Brown compete pre-game in Feats of Strength, followed by a post-game Airing of Grievances. I’d pay $100 to attend. No more, no less. $100.