In the last few days, the Charlotte Bobcats have removed Sam Vincent and announced that a Hall of Fame coach has been secured to lead the team in the right direction.
Due to some good fortune, I was able to reschedule some of the days plans and make it to announcement of Charlotte’s newest coach, Larry Brown. Within the arena, the press held down the chairs facing the new coach and the heads of the organization – Fred Whitfield, Michael Jordan and Bob Johnson. Surrounding the rows of chairs were fans that had shown up to celebrate the arrival of Brown. As a late entry, I slipped to the left side of the audience and noticed several familiar faces from the club just a few feet to my left – Bernie Bickerstaff and asst. coach Paul Moleski. As the curtained was cleared and the main event began, I realized that Raymond Felton, Sean May, Phil Ford, and Matt Carroll were just a step away from me, as well. They all seemed just as excited for this announcement as the fans around them.
Several things stood out to me as Brown and Jordan held their opening comments and answered a few rounds of questions. Particularly, it was interesting to learn that Jordan had contacted Brown about the position a year ago. Brown wasn’t ready then, but at what point did he let Michael know that he wanted the job? Was Vincent just a calculated gamble by Jordan and the organization, knowing that they could reach out to Brown in a future situation? Both Jordan and the new head coach strategically dodged any hint that this was in the works while Sam was on the job.
Also, it was great to hear Brown discuss his aims of coaching such a young team. Much has been said on the major sports broadcasts about how he prefers veteran guys. In response to question on the topic, Brown replied “You’ve got to coach guys up.” He followed comparing the trend of new NBA rosters with coaching college teams when asked about the youth of the Bobcats. He stated that a great challenge was “understanding the difference between criticism and coaching” for young players. A phrase he repeated often was that the team will “be coached every day.”
Another common line you’ll hear about Larry Brown from ESPN or Sports Illustrated is that he’s very hard on his point guards. A local reporter lobbed that question to Brown and he simply admitted to it. Of his point guards, he said that he considers them “an extension of the head coach.”
Sean May looks a bit thinner than I’ve ever seen him. From my brief observations, he and Felton look like true friends, not just long time teammates. Raymond looked honestly excited about the event, also.
When asked about the rest of his coaching staff, Brown said the Jordan wanted him to consider those currently on staff as a courtesy to their loyalty. Brown went to explain that he will choose his own assistants, those who “will care about me.” It was an interesting way to put it, but I think Phil Ford will probably be the only one of the assistants to remain.