Simply put, Larry Brown is one of the most successful basketball coaches, college or pro, of all-time. He is the only head coach to lead teams to an NBA title (Detroit 2004) and an NCAA Championship (Kansas 1988). He is also the only coach in history to lead eight different NBA teams to the playoffs.
This native of Brooklyn, NY was a 5-9 starting point guard for the University of North Carolina where he was fortunate to learn under such iconic mentors as Frank McGuire and Dean Smith. Considered too small for the NBA, he played in the newly formed ABA where he led the league in assists in its first three seasons and in 1968 was named MVP of the All Star Game. He ended his playing career as the ABA’s all-time assists leader.
Brown’s first coaching jobs were with the Carolina Cougars and Denver Nuggets before he moved on to UCLA where he led his freshman dominated Bruins to the NCAA title game in 1980. In 1983, he began a five-year tenure at Kansas where they won the 1988 national championship, KU’s first in 36 years. He was named Naismith Coach of the Year.
During his lengthy and successful pro career, he coached ten different teams including the Philadelphia 76ers from 1997-2003. As coach of the 76ers, Brown was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2001 as the team reached the NBA Finals.
A self-avowed perfectionist, Brown is considered to be unparalleled at teaching the game “the right way” and is a master of reclamation projects. “Only one team, Detroit, of all those I’ve coached over the years, had a winning record when I arrived”, he said. He also is the only U.S. male to both play and coach in the Olympics, winning Gold Medals in 1964 and 2000. On September 27, 2002, Brown was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
He is currently the head basketball coach at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.