2005-07-22 / Sports

Knicks Want To Welcome Brown Back To New York

By Michael Avallone Sports Columnist

By Michael Avallone
Sports Columnist

The doors at Madison Square Garden aren’t just open; the hinges have been removed and the welcome mat is out.

Now officially the ex-coach of the Detroit Pistons, Larry Brown’s agent said he expects the unemployed coach to make a decision on his future in the next couple of weeks, and the Knicks already are hard at work trying to convince the 64-year-old to settle down in midtown Manhattan.

Knicks president Isiah Thomas spoke to Brown on the telephone Tuesday night – cutting short his 20 th wedding anniversary dinner in the process – just hours after Detroit announced they were parting ways with the coach who led them to one NBA Championship and two straight Finals appearances.

New York’s pursuit of Brown means that interim coach Herb Williams – who went 16-27 after taking over for Lenny Wilkens – will remain in limbo. Williams’ head coaching contract expires July 31, though he remains under contract to the Knicks as an assistant coach for the upcoming season and if in fact Brown is hired, could remain on the staff.

However, if Brown decides to spurn the Knicks, or if he chooses to wait a few months before deciding his next move, Williams is the clear-cut choice to remain head coach.

In the past, Brown has publicly endorsed Williams for the Knicks’ head coaching job and in comments to New York reporters on Tuesday night, didn’t sound like a man who was comfortable possibly replacing the well-liked Williams.

That being said, Thomas has made it clear who he would prefer to have roaming courtside, and it’s a safe bet that he’ll pull out all the stops to lure the Brooklyn-born Brown back home.

It would be a long and winding road for the Hall-of-Famer. Brown has coached nine different ABA and NBA teams, taking a record six to the postseason and two (Philadelphia, Detroit) to the NBA Finals. The Pistons win over the Lakers in the 2004 Finals gave Brown his first NBA championship, making him the only coach to win both an NCAA crown as well as an NBA title.

But health problems this season forced Brown to miss 17 games, though he insisted he wanted to return to the Pistons if doctors deemed him healthy enough. He underwent two major surgeries during the season, and had a third procedure to correct a bladder condition shortly after Detroit lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals in late June.

All along, Brown said he wouldn’t want to lead another NBA team. But Brown also said in the middle of last season that coaching the Knicks would be a “dream job.” That didn’t please Pistons’ owner Bill Davidson, and his flirtation with the Cleveland Cavaliers during this year’s playoffs made things even worse.

So after meetings late last week with Davidson as well as team president Joe Dumars, Brown was fired…or bought out of his contract, depending on whom you believe.

But one thing is certain, with his departure from Detroit now complete, it’s Brown’s choice as to whether he wants to make his dream become reality.

The next step likely will come after Thomas and Brown have their face-to-face meeting. Thomas will be waiting with the keys to the Garden. Brown doesn’t need them. The doors are wide open.

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