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April 30, 2010

More from Brown's press conference

-- A couple of weeks ago Flip Murray (who will be a free agent this summer) said he'd love to sign again with the Bobcats. I asked Larry Brown about that at his end-of-season press conference Friday. Brown's reaction showed he loved coaching Murray. But also that they have to figure out Gerald Henderson's role and Brown hasn't given up on Larry Hughes.

"I guess we have to see how Gerald does (in summer league and training camp), but I would never be opposed to having (Murray) on our team. He's tremendous for me because of his knowledge of the game and contributions he makes in giving me little ideas. I love it when players are engaged and aren't afraid to give their opinions in respectful ways.''

And then this unsolicited comment on Hughes:

"I think we saw Larry Hughes at about 50 percent of what he could be because he hadn't played in so long when we got him. He was way behind, but made tremendous progress.''

-- We asked several questions about Raymond Felton's impending free-agency. Larry expressed respect for what Felton does, without speaking above his pay-grade on what the team should do to retain him.

"Personally, he's been phenomenal for me to coach. He comes to every practice, he tries every drill, he tries every game. Gives all he has,'' Brown said. "We all value that, but when you look at our financial situation, that's a decision (owner) Michael (Jordan) will have to make. I know Michael thinks the world of Raymond.''

-- On entering the summer without any draft picks:

"That's one of the reasons we traded for Tyrus (Thomas) -- somebody we thought we'd never be able to get in this draft.''

-- Final thought: If that was Brown's last press conference as Bobcats coach, then I'll sure miss covering a man of such intelligence and candor. Check out this comment on under-performing center Gana Diop:

"We've got to make DeSagana better. He has a lot of work to do because, quite honestly, you can't trade his contract.''

Contrast that to the local NFL coach; can you imagine John Fox acknowledging, much less volunteering, that a player was so under-performing he's untradeable?

Posted by Observer Sports on April 30, 2010 at 02:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (24)

Brown on his Bobcats decision

Some quick excerpts from Larry Brown's post-season media session Friday:



“I’ll try to answer this question the best I can: I have a great job here. I love Charlotte, I love working for Michael, I love coaching. I don’t think there are many places where I’ve been as comfortable, and I’ve been in some pretty special situations.


“But I have a 13-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son and the time I’m away from them, I can’t get that back. I’ll be 70. I don’t feel that way, unless I look in the mirror. But I’ve got to go home and talk to my wife. I love her and I love my kids and I don’t want them growing up and all of a sudden I blink and I’ve missed that. It’s just something I’ll have to address and try to figure out.’’


“It’s kind of amazing. I see people my age not working. I understand that, but I’ve never had to work. I’m doing exactly what I love to do in an environment that’s pretty incredible. People love basketball here and are passionate about it on every level. Spending two years with Michael and now seeing his role change, that’s important to me because he gave me a chance. It’s amazing to me how they think you forget (what you knew) in such a short period of time, after coming from New York and what happened there. He gave me the chance, and I don’t take that lightly.''


“I’ll sit down with (wife) Shelly, like I always do, and try to figure things out.’’




“I worked for Carl Scheer, and I remember what it was like when he was involved with the Hornets and going into that arena. Every night was like Saturday (sold out and loud). It was a phenomenal place to play because people couldn’t all go to Duke or North Carolina, Wake, State or Davidson. So a lot of them became Hornets fans to see the ACC kids play (as pros).


“it was an amazing environment, so I was kind of surprised coming back (last) year that there was no interest at all (in the Bobcats). Now, this year, I go to certain places, and people start asking me about the team, even ask me for tickets. I went out the other day (to the golf tournament at Quail Hollow) with Michael and hearing the remarks about our team, their feelings about basketball, it came full-circle. Amazing.


“I think people genuinely care….We’ve got to somehow capture that and retain it – earn that trust and respect. It’s being part of something that’s developing. Coach Smith always talked about playing the right way. If you do that here, people will get behind you.’’




“I talked to Michael about it and told him now I’d go back and visit with my family. I don’t want this to be about me. My whole thought process now is how to make (the Bobcats) better. I don’t want this to drag on. But I think the worst thing you could do is make a decision right after the playoffs. I still want to coach. I told that to Michael – I want to coach and I don’t want to coach anywhere else.’’

Posted by Observer Sports on April 30, 2010 at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

April 28, 2010

Some post-season thoughts

 -- I think what you're seeing with Michael Jordan is a "kill him with kindness'' strategy.

I don't mean to make this sound all contrived, but if you've taken a Myers-Briggs test, you know what I mean: Intelligence can be measured in many ways. Jordan, I'm told, would measure off the charts as a "feeler'' on that intelligence scale and have you noticed how nurturing he's being to Larry Brown?

Jordan told our golf writers, out at Quail Hollow, that nothing is new, that Larry is saying the same things privately as he does publicly, and that Jordan will make it extremely difficult for Larry to want to leave. No matter how this plays out -- Larry stays as coach/Larry leaves to go back to Philadelphia -- Jordan is doing the right thing (and there are plenty of times I wouldn't say that about other decisions). Either Brown is so compelled to move on that it's better he's not here, or he re-commits to Jordan, to whom he has great loyalty.

I won't be surprised if, after all this drama, Brown comes back to Charlotte, only because he feels an intense loyalty to Jordan. But family matters, and this has been hard on him.

-- You heard a bunch about the Clippers and Brown, but that's dying down, apparently because Donald Sterling isn't interested in overpaying for his next coach.

-- If Brown does leave, here's the problem: This roster is skewed to what Brown values: Defenders, in the absence of shooters. Shotblockers, in the abscence of post scorers. Another coach would have a problem with the configuration.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 28, 2010 at 08:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (38)

April 27, 2010

Some thoughts on what Brown does

 Let me tell you the one thing I'm certain of about Larry Brown and the Charlotte Bobcats:

Anyone who claims right now to know what will happen -- Does he stay? Does he go back to Philadelphia? Does he flirt with the Los Angeles Clippers? -- is claiming to know more than he really does.

Brown is a fascinating and sometimes bizarre figure -- the most interesting and mult-layered coach I'll ever cover. Here's what's weird: He's totally unfiltered -- he'll say things that are shockingly blunt -- and yet you're not sure you ever understand him or that he understands himself.

Yesterday became another day in Larryland, when Yahoo.com reported that Brown is actively angling for control of the Philadelphia 76ers. The journalist who wrote that is great at what he does, so maybe there is something to that. But, again, this is Larryland, and the Sixers -- check out the Philadelphia Daily News' web site -- is denying this with such passion, I don't believe this is nearly as down the road as that report would suggest.

I think it's my job to give you some perspective in these blogs, so here goes:

(1.)  Brown is as likely to leave as he is to stay. The best argument for staying is his intense loyalty to Michael Jordan (that's not just talk; he's genuinely indebted to Jordan for seeing what he could still accomplish after the Knicks debacle). The counter-argument is this: Barring a brilliant and unlikely roster move, they have too much guaranteed money and not enough draft picks. They're more likely to go down than up.

(2.) No matter what Brown says, don't assume. Brown says what he believes -- IN THE MOMENT. The problem is it changes over time. He's impulsive and can be silly. And if I had a gorgeous wife and two great kids back in Philly (not to mention more money than I could ever spend) I might be flexible about my obligations.

(3) And THIS IS IMPORTANT: I am told by numerous people who should know that once Brown wants out, you need to let him leave, because for all his brilliance, he's corrosive when he's miserable. I'm not saying that's happened. I don't know whether it's happened. But if it has, then Jordan would know. And that would mean that a graceful exit is in order.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 27, 2010 at 03:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (25)

April 26, 2010

What Orlando's zone has highlighted

-- Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown elaborated at shootaround this morning on comments he made Sunday, concerning how effectively the Orlando Magic is using a zone defense.

Orlando's strategy is an indictment of what the Bobcats aren't offensively.

Brown said the Magic isn't guarding Raymond Felton or any of the centers, and getting away with it, and guarding Boris Diaw only when he has the ball. Essentially, Magic center Dwight Howard can play a one-man zone (without violating the defensive 3-second rule) because none of the three Charlotte centers is much of an offensive threat.

That being so, Brown indicated, it's remarkable how few offensive rebounds the centers are getting. Tyson Chandler has three, Nazr Mohammed has five and Theo Ratliff has none. By definition, if Howard is roaming around as a one-man zone, he's not boxing out the opposing center, yet they're not getting any offensive rebounds. Also, Gerald Wallace has just two offensive boards in this series.

Since the Bobcats don't have many great jump-shooters (any great jump-shooters?), Brown said the priority tonight in trying to defeat Orlando's zone tactics is quicker, more decisive ball-movement. He watched the Dallas-San Antonio playoff game yesterday and was struck by how much better those teams were than his at decisively passing the ball. Ball movement is more important than player movement when facing a zone defense.

-- I asked Brown if he could gauge his players' attitude heading into a game where they could be swept. He said he didn't know, then added this team has always cared and tried, so that shouldn't be a worry.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 26, 2010 at 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Fun stuff in a Redick jersey

Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi, with a cool twist on the guy so many of you love to boo.


Posted by Observer Sports on April 26, 2010 at 08:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

April 24, 2010

Post-mortem on Game 3

-- The single best word to describe the Bobcats Saturday was dumb. To do everything you must to foul-out Dwight Howard, then spend the last 3 1/2 minutes throwing up jump shots is an absurdly dumb thing to do.

These aren't dumb people -- I'm around them enough to know -- but their lack of recognition was laughable. Offense has been a problem all season, but this went beyond that. They didn't drive, they didn't rotate the ball and they didn't find Gerald Wallace, one of the best weapons in the league when a game is about getting to the rim.


-- Disasterous as that finish was they at least got back to trapping defense, which they do extremely well. They forced the Magic into 21 turnovers. I knew this was coming because the top item on the dry-erase board in their locker room read "42 defense whenever possible.'' 42 defense is their run-and-jump trap and they hardly used it at all in the two games in Orlando. I guess the Magic's spacing worried them, but I think they gave that team too much respect if they renounced the trap.

-- I suspect Raymond Felton has cost himself a lot of money for the way he's played in this best-of-seven. He's an unrestricted free agent in July, and I can't help but think about the Panthers signing Jake Delhomme to that contract (it was about cap management and franchising Julius Peppers), then cutting him a year later.

The Bobcats have to figure out whether Felton is their future at point guard, and what it's worth to keep him. D.J. Augustin is not a starter, except in a pinch. They either need to sign him and hope or cut ties all together.

If I were the Bobcats, I'd inquire with the Bulls about Kirk Hinrich. If the Bobcats could move one of those centers (Nazr Mohammed?) in a package with Augustin, Hinrich would be a good fit here.

-- No matter what Larry Brown has said, I wonder if Monday is the last game he coaches for the Bobcats.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 24, 2010 at 10:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (42)

April 23, 2010

Why must it always be the refs' fault?

My favorite journalism professor at Syracuse had a challenging definition of fairness. He said fairness is "equivalently disenfranchising both sides of a controversy.''

His point: Being fair doesn't mean making everybody happy. Fair might be making everyone similarly unhappy. And that's what's happening in this Bobcats-Magic playoff series.

Orlando's Stan Van Gundy and Matt Barnes were each fined $35,000 for saying the refs aren't giving Dwight Howard enough calls. Bobcats coach Larry Brown managed to avoid that fine, but if you heard his comments after Game 2, you know he can't understand why his team drives all the time and the Magic takes 3-pointers, yet Orlando took all the free throws.

You know what that's called? Fairness.

Y'all think the Bobcats are being ripped off because the referees are incompetent and crooked and --- here's the one I love -- instructed to make sure the stars advance. More power to you. If you want to vent, vent. I'm sure there are Magic fans who would match you complaint for complaint.

As Professor Sam would have confirmed back at sophomore newswriting class, if those to your left are furious and those to your right are just as furious, you might have nailed fairness. 

Posted by Observer Sports on April 23, 2010 at 08:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (29)

Magic's Lewis hurt, says he'll play

-- Orlando Magic power forward Rashard Lewis had his left ankle wrapped in ice and walked with a slight limp Friday, but he said he'll play in Saturday's Game 3 of the playoff series against the Charlotte Bobcats.

"Hey, it's the playoffs,'' Lewis told Orlando media. "An ankle sprain ain't going to slow me up.''

Lewis said he hurt his ankle when Charlotte's Gerald Wallace blocked his layup attempt from behind in Game 2. Wallace came down on Lewis's ankle as he landed. Teammate Jameer Nelson grabbed in the ball and scored from behind the play.

Lewis said he was mad at himself for not attempting a dunk on the play, and was conscious of Wallace having blocked two shots previous to that.

"At least go try to dunk the ball,'' Lewis said, "if you're going to sprain your ankle.''

-- Bobcats coach Larry Brown got an early-evening call from owner Michael Jordan Thursday, with Jordan asking if Brown was watching the conclusion of the Chicago Bulls' victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Brown said of course he was watching, and Jordan said that's the intensity the Bobcats need to emulate in Game 3.

Brown used that story following practice Friday to illustrate that some of his players are still playing regular-season basketball in a playoff setting. It's a whole different level demanding more focus and more toughness.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 23, 2010 at 02:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Stern declares war on ref-rippers

Sounds like Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown and his players better be careful what they say about the referees the rest of this playoff series. When NBA commissioner David Stern gets agititated, he plays rough.


Posted by Observer Sports on April 23, 2010 at 09:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (17)