IS Rimfire having fond rememberances of Layden yet?
Lifted from RealGM
Larry the target of players' shots
Unite as team against coach
BY FRANK ISOLA
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Larry Brown and his players don't like way things are going.
As Larry Brown turned left at Woody Allen's seat and accelerated past Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson in the tunnel, one Knick turned to his teammates and announced: "Now we can start playing ball."
Just when you thought it couldn't get any uglier at Madison Square Garden, a growing rift between the players and their Hall of Fame coach is beginning to surface. How bad is it? Let's just say it's safe to assume that no one in the locker room is going to take up a collection to pay Brown's fine for being ejected in the third quarter of Tuesday's humiliating 130-97 loss to the Lakers.
The Knicks are in disarray from top to bottom with no relief - or playoff games - in sight. Thomas, the team president, is embroiled in a sexual harassment lawsuit that gets messier each day. The team has lost nine of its last 10 games and is 14-30 overall.
And inside the locker room, where confusion and frustration reign, the players are fed up with Brown beating them down privately and publicly, according to several team sources. Following Monday's loss to Atlanta, Brown accused the players of quitting. Two days earlier, he was highly critical of Eddy Curry's performance in a loss to Philadelphia.
That's why few players were sorry to see the coach ejected with 5:46 remaining in the third quarter Tuesday night. According to a source, as Brown walked to the locker room, at least two players half-jokingly commented that the team was free to play how it wanted.
In the aftermath of the 33-point loss to the Lakers, the Knicks met for two hours at their training facility yesterday, but the players were not made available. Thomas and Garden chairman James Dolan were also in Greenburgh and were said to be in meetings with Brown. Both Dolan and Thomas were off limits to the press as well.
People close to Dolan continue to stress that the Garden chief has faith in Thomas even though that loyalty is being tested. Under Thomas, the Knicks haven't won a playoff game and are working on their third straight losing season. Thomas has convinced Dolan that he is rebuilding and yet the Chicago Bulls own the Knicks' first-round pick this June, which is almost certain to be a lottery selection. Also, the payroll is at a league-high $120 million and climbing.
Thomas acquired every player on the roster and their performance under Brown has done little to enhance the team president's job security. It also can't help that Brown has used 27 starting lineups and that he has been openly critical of the players, something that neither Don Chaney nor Lenny Wilkens dared to do under Thomas.
Likewise, it can't help Brown that his players all have a pipeline to Thomas. In the past, Thomas' role as a buffer and friend to certain players ticked off those Knicks who were leftovers from previous regimes. Now Brown is the outsider.
With Thomas being such a powerful presence around the team it would seem only logical that Brown would have problems gaining command of the locker room, even though he has a proven track record. According to a source, the players are convinced that Brown is looking to move most of them and would do just that if given the power. Hence, the players are loyal to Thomas, which could lead to a Brown-Thomas showdown.
Stephon Marbury's problems with Brown have been well-documented, and if nothing else, the point guard is not afraid to tell his side of the story. The same is true of second-year forward Trevor Ariza, who two weeks ago requested a meeting with Brown only to be denied.
But many of their teammates who have also felt the brunt of Brown's demanding ways - Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Curry and Jerome James - have exercised restraint.
The lines of communication appear to be closing. Following yesterday's film session, Brown admitted that Antonio Davis delivered a message from the team that they want the staff to simplify the way they are to defend pick-and-rolls.
"He was the spokesperson," Brown said. "Tony knows me."
Davis played for Brown with the Indiana Pacers and acts as a liaison between the players and the coach. Of course, Thomas had serious reservations about bringing in Davis, who was included in the Curry deal. Perhaps Thomas felt threatened because of Davis' relationship with the new coach. Now, Brown needs Davis more than ever.
"You can say almost anything to Tony Davis because he's been with me and there is a trust," Brown said of his tough-love approach. "And then with some, they might not listen to what you're saying, they might just hear your voice."
You have to wonder how many Knicks hear anything now.
Originally published on February 2, 2006