Brown, Marbury put on a show
by Eddie Johnson / March 21, 2006
Last week, Stephon Marbury and Larry Brown spread their dislike for one another to full view of the media. I hope most of you – especially my loyal readers – were not surprised by this outburst. I went on the record months ago and said this marriage would not work.
Played 17 years in the NBA for the Kings, Suns, SuperSonics, Hornets, Pacers, Nuggets and Rockets. Won the 1988-89 NBA Sixth Man Award averaging 21.5 ppg.
NBA all-time leading scorer among players with no All-Star appearances.
He is in his sixth year as the color analyst for the Phoenix Suns broadcasts.
You can visit his website at www.jumpshotclub.com
The sad thing is that they are both equally at fault for the terrible season Knick fans have had to endure.
I have never in all my years playing basketball seen a coach and player try to ruin the reputation of the other to the extent Marbury and Brown did last week.
Where is the agenda? We usually tend to get caught up in the attitudes and work ethic of the player, but rarely do we focus in on the coach in this manner.
I had two years with Larry Brown and he definitely is unlike any coach I've ever met. How many coaches do we know in any sport that would go toe-to-toe with the highest-paid player and the perceived star? Yes, I know $10 million a year can give you that security. But if you look at his track record with superstar players, the money or security does not matter much to him.
The only team that he has coached recently where he had little or no issues (at least, until last season) was Detroit. Why? The Pistons had no superstar players that commanded and took attention away from him.
Let’s quickly look back:
- Danny Manning, who won a national title with Brown at Kansas, was not enamored with the idea of being coached again by Brown when he played for the Clippers.
- Reggie Miller and Brown did not always see eye to eye either, but Reggie Miller was a pro's pro. The two years I spent in Indiana, I was amazed to see the stuff Reggie took verbally from Brown without fighting back. I once asked Reggie why he took all of that abuse when other guys were not half as committed as he was. He said: “I was taught to obey my coaches and not talk back to them”. When he said that, I laughed. That’s exactly how I was taught.
Reggie was the most committed unselfish superstar I have ever played with. He was always the first person at practice, on the plane, at meetings, etcetera... And no one outworked him in practice or games. And Brown still found ways to ride him about something.
- Allen Iverson was new school. You diss me, I will diss you back. Iverson’s new school mentality would not allow Brown to ride him verbally. Nevertheless, Brown’s ego and stubbornness would not allow him to give in. Allen is the toughest player I have ever seen. He played hurt for Brown and won the MVP, but Brown didn't like the fact that he took a ton of shots and had a negative attitude towards practice.
I understand why Brown would be bothered by that attitude. What confused me was that Reggie Miller was the the poster boy of what Larry wanted and he had something to complain about with him anyway.
So the question is... Why does Brown have problems with stars?
I think it's quite obvious. Brown sees himself as the star attraction and not the player. He loves attention, although he will make you think he doesn’t.
He craves being the reason why teams and players are much better off than when he inherited them when he leaves and takes another job. He made that clear last week when criticizing Marbury.
He lives to change the way you play the game and if you are unwilling to change, he will bury you. Just look at the many lineup changes – with players going in and out of his doghouse from game to game – in New York this season.
I have no idea what Channing Frye did, but he was in the running for Rookie of the Year until his minutes went down. No coach in the league other than Brown would dare even try to do what he has done with his rotations this year.
That brings us to Stephon Marbury. Brown knew from the very beginning that he and Starbury would never get along, but the allure of 10 million per year was enough to give it a try. And if it didn’t work, he would turn the attention to the star of the team because he knew the masses would side with him instead of Marbury.
Larry Brown is not only a great coach. He is a master motivator as well, but he knew from Day One that he would never be able to coach Marbury.
Stephon’s history and Brown's ability to tap into the many coaches that he has placed around the league told him so.
Marbury is everything he hates. He loves movement of the ball. Marbury loves to dominate it. He wants his point guard to pass first. Marbury loves to shoot first. He loves a leader at point guard. Marbury has never shown an ability to lead a team. He loves a point guard who does everything he says. Marbury will give a little, but not a lot.
The one thing Larry can never say about him is that he loafs. Marbury plays hard every minute he is on the floor, but he refuses to be a star that leads his team the right way. It’s really sad because he might be the best point guard in the league on talent alone.
The problem with Marbury is that he just does not get it. He has no idea how to equate success with him having to take a step backwards in his aggression. You would think that the fact that every team he's been on has had success once he's gone would affect him. But it doesn’t – and that’s sad.
The one rule most players have been taught since grammar school is to respect the coach and try and appease him. For some reason, Marbury has fought the idea of taking instructions and criticism from anyone. He showed us that last week by publicly saying he will respond back to any criticism he receives from Brown through the media.
So what do we have now? A stubborn coach who hates individualistic players and a player that refuses to understand that his way of playing the NBA game has never added up to team success. So now that Larry has finally met his match, what happens next?
That sad scenario falls in the lap of Isiah Thomas. I would bet anything Zeke wishes to take that coaching job. At least, he would be controlling his own destiny. Right now, he has two individuals destroying the successful scenario he envisioned when he traded for Marbury and hired Brown.
I know Isiah and this has to be driving him crazy. It gets worse because he will be stuck with these two. Brown is a committed coach to the extent of having success wherever he has coached and Marbury is virtually untradeable because of his contract and past history.
Brown boasted last week that he never leaves a team worst than when he got it. OK, we will see if Brown can conquer his toughest challenge as a head coach yet.
It could take Brown a few years to get the Knicks out of this hole. And the shovel he will need to help dig himself and the team out will probably be named Starbury.
Eddie Johnson is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com