Lawrence Harvey "Larry" Brown (born September 14, 1940) is an American basketball coach, who is currently the head coach at Southern Methodist University. He is the only coach in basketball history to win both an NCAA national championship (Kansas, 1988) and an NBA title (Pistons, 2004). He has a 1,275-965 lifetime professional coaching record in the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) and is the only coach in NBA history to lead eight different teams to the playoffs. He also won an ABA championship as a player with the Oakland Oaks in the 1968–69 season, and an Olympic Gold Medal in 1964. He is also the only person ever to coach two NBA franchises in the same season (Spurs and Clippers during the 1991-92 NBA season).[2] Before coaching, Brown played collegiately at the University of North Carolina and professionally in the ABA. He has been a basketball coach since 1972.

Brown was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach on September 27, 2002. Although widely considered one of the greatest coaches in basketball history, he has developed a reputation for constantly looking for better coaching opportunities and frequently switching teams or programs before the expiration of his contract.[3]

As a player

Brown is Jewish,[4] and was born in Brooklyn, New York. A 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) point guard, he attended Long Beach High School and then played at the University of North Carolina under legendary coaches Frank McGuire and Dean Smith. A stellar player for the Tar Heels in the early 1960s, Brown was considered too small to play in the NBA and so began his post-college career with the NABL's Akron Wingfoots, where he played for two years (1964–65). During that time Brown was selected for the 1964 Summer Olympics team, on which he played and with which he won a gold medal,[4] while also leading the Wingfoots to the 1964 AAU National Championship.

After a brief stint as an assistant coach at North Carolina, Brown joined the upstart American Basketball Association, playing with the New Orleans Buccaneers (1967–68), Oakland Oaks (1968–69), Washington Caps (1969–70), Virginia Squires (1970–71), and Denver Rockets (1971–72). Brown was named MVP of the ABA's first All-Star Game in 1968, and was named to the All-ABA Second Team the same year. Brown led the ABA in assists per game during the league's first three seasons, and when he ended his playing career, Brown was the ABA's all-time assist leader. His total of 2,509 assists places him seventh on the ABA's career list, and he holds the ABA record for assists in a game with 23.[5]

As a coach

Brown's first head coaching job was at Davidson College in North Carolina in 1969. Unfortunately for Wildcat fans, it would only last during the summer offseason and he never coached a game.[6] Brown moved on to the ABA and coached with the Carolina Cougars and then the Denver Nuggets, who later joined the NBA in 1976, for five and a half seasons from 1974 to 1979. He then moved on to coach for UCLA (1979–1981), leading his freshman-dominated 1979–80 team to the NCAA title game before falling to Louisville, 59–54. However, that appearance was later vacated by the NCAA after two UCLA players were found to be ineligible—one of the few times a Final Four squad has had its record vacated. Brown was the head coach for the NBA's New Jersey Nets for two years following that, from 1981 to 1983.

1983–1988: University of Kansas

Brown began his tenure at the University of Kansas (1983–1988). There he was named "Coach of the Year" for the NCAA in 1988 and "Coach of the Year" for the Big Eight Conference in 1986. Kansas finished first in the Big Eight in 1986, and second in 1984, 1985, and 1987. In 1988, Kansas got off to a mediocre 12–8 start, including 1–4 in the Big 8, and the end of the Jayhawks' 55-game homecourt winning streak in Allen Fieldhouse. Ultimately, behind the high-scoring of Danny Manning, KU finished 27–11 and won the national championship in 1988, defeating favored conference rival Oklahoma 83–79 in the final.

Upon leaving Kansas, Brown had five NCAA Tournament appearances, three Sweet 16 appearances, and two trips to the Final Four. As a collegiate coach, he had a cumulative coaching record of 177–61 (.744) in seven seasons, including a 135–44 (.754) record at Kansas. After leaving to return to the NBA, NCAA sanctions were levied against Kansas in the 1988–89 season as a result of recruiting violations, for potential transfer Vincent Askew who was provided with money to leave his campus visit to visit his grandmother who was ill. No players on any of Brown's teams were named in the report and Askew did not transfer to Kansas.[7] Among the sanctions, Kansas was banned from the 1989 NCAA Tournament—the only time a reigning champion has been banned from defending its title. Kansas had suffered back-to-back losing seasons in 1982 and 1983 under former coach Ted Owens before Brown brought the Jayhawks back into the national spotlight.

Brown moved back to the NBA after his time in Kansas, taking the head coaching job with the San Antonio Spurs, and has led the Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers (where he won the NBA's top coaching award and led the team to the 2001 NBA Finals), Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, and Charlotte Bobcats.

2003–2005: Detroit Pistons

Brown won his first NBA Championship during his first year with the Detroit Pistons in 2004, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers four games to one in the 2004 NBA Finals. By doing so, Brown became the first, and so far only, man to coach teams to both NCAA and NBA titles. Brown is also the only NBA coach to take two different teams (76ers and Pistons) to the NBA Finals against the same opponent (Los Angeles Lakers in 2001 and 2004), lose the first time, and win the second.

Brown was also chosen as the head coach for the USA men's basketball team at the 2004 Summer Olympics which earned a bronze medal, a major disappointment. Brown was heavily criticized for publicly berating the players, for repeatedly criticizing the roster chosen by the player selection committee, and for insisting on a style of play which minimized the United States' advantage in athleticism.

In May 2005, rumors surfaced that Brown would become the Cleveland Cavaliers' team president as soon as the Detroit Pistons finished their postseason. The rumor, which was not dispelled by Brown, became a major distraction as the Pistons lost to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games in the 2005 NBA Finals.

On July 19, 2005, the Pistons, displeased with Brown's public flirtations with other teams, bought out the remaining years of Brown's contract, allowing him to sign with another team.[8][9] A week later, on July 28, 2005, Brown became the head coach of the New York Knicks,[10] with a 5-year contract reportedly worth between $50 million and $60 million, making him the highest-paid coach in NBA history.

2005–2006: New York Knicks

On January 13, 2006, the Knicks beat the Atlanta Hawks to give Brown his 1,000th win in the NBA, making him only the fourth coach to do so joining the ranks of Lenny Wilkens, Don Nelson, and Pat Riley. Coincidentally, all four of these coaches have served as head coach for the Knicks at one point in their career.[11]

Brown's tenure as Knicks head coach lasted one season, as the team fired him on June 23, 2006, after he led the team to a disastrous 23–59 record. Brown's season with the Knicks was marred by public feuds with his own players, most notably point guard Stephon Marbury.[12]

2008–2010: Charlotte Bobcats (Charlotte Hornets)

On April 29, 2008, Brown signed to become the head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats – his ninth NBA coaching job.[13] He managed to keep the relatively young team in playoff contention. The following season, Brown guided the Bobcats to the franchise's first-ever playoff appearance. Charlotte was the 8th different team he led to the postseason, an NBA record.

On December 22, 2010, Brown parted ways with the Bobcats after the team went 9–19. His departure was officially characterized as a resignation, but other sources reported that Brown was fired.[14][15] Assistant coach Jeff Capel II told The Charlotte Observer that the entire coaching staff had been fired.[14]

2012–present: SMU

On April 17, 2012, ESPN reported that Brown was to be named the new head coach of the SMU Mustangs, replacing Matt Doherty, who had been fired from SMU earlier in March. Tim Jankovich, the head coach of Illinois State, was hired as the coach-in-waiting.[16]

After a rebuilding season in 2012-2013 (15-17), Brown brought SMU into the national conversation the following year and led the team to a 27-10 record in the 2013-2014 season.[citation needed] SMU swept the eventual National Champion University of Connecticut Huskies in conference play and was the most notable team not to be let into the NCAA Tournament field of sixty-eight.[citation needed] SMU went on to be the overall number one seed in the National Invitational Tournament, losing in the final game of the tournament to Minnesota.[citation needed] For the 2014-2015 season Brown secured the services of the top ranked point guard in the nation, Emmanuel Mudiay, over the likes of the Kentucky and Kansas.[citation needed] Before ever playing a game for the Mustangs, Mudiay elected to play professionally in China and forgo his amateur status.[citation needed] On September 29, 2015, Brown was suspended by the NCAA for 30% of the Mustangs' games in the upcoming 2015-2016 season, and the team was banned from 2016 post-season play, placed on probation for 3 years, and lost 9 scholarships over a 3-year period, due to a lack of head coach control. The NCAA found that Brown failed to report violations when a former administrative assistant committed academic fraud on behalf of a student-athlete and he initially lied to enforcement staff about his knowledge of the potential violations.[17]

Brown is the faculty advisor for the SMU student spirit group that supports campus athletics programs named "The MOB", as Brown is known as "The Godfather".[18]

Coaching profile

Though he has received criticism for never staying in any one place for very long, Brown is hailed as one of basketball's greatest teachers, and is well known for turning losers into winners. The Nets and the Clippers are not only the "second teams" in their metropolitan areas, but have long been regarded as laughingstock franchises. Prior to the 2001 arrival of Jason Kidd, the Nets had made the playoffs in only 10 of their first 25 seasons in the NBA. Two of those 10 times were in 1982 and 1983, under Brown. The Clippers, in San Diego and Los Angeles combined, made the playoffs in only three of their first 27 seasons. Two of those three playoff appearances, in 1992 and 1993, were under Brown. Those were also the second and third of the three times the franchise had finished .500 or better since moving in 1978, after being the Buffalo Braves, until finishing over .500 and making the playoffs in 2006. The Spurs had been an NBA power for most of the 1980s, but faltered for several years after the departure of George Gervin before crashing to the worst record in the league in 1988–89, Brown's first season. In his second season, however, the Spurs made the biggest single-season improvement in NBA history at the time, leaping all the way to a division title. The Pacers had been an also-ran for most of the time since coming from the ABA, with only three winning seasons in their first 18 years in the league. However, Brown led them to their first two finishes better than two games over .500, as well as their first division title as an NBA team.

In 2005, Allen Iverson, who frequently clashed with Brown in Philadelphia, said that he was without a doubt "the best coach in the world".

Despite Brown's prowess in coaching and handling different egos and personalities, Brown has often been questioned for not playing rookies. He is also known for being hard on his point guards.

Coaching tree

Brown's multiple professional and collegiate coaching and playing stops have deeply intertwined him in the Kansas/UNC coaching trees. Brown's college basketball coach when he played at UNC, Dean Smith, was a player under legendary Kansas basketball coach Phog Allen, who in turn at Kansas had played for James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. Brown was recruited to UNC by Frank McGuire, who had played for Joe Lapchick at St John's. His success as a player, however, came under Dean Smith, who took over for McGuire in 1961.

Larry Brown then became head coach of Kansas himself and upon his departure was replaced by UNC alum Roy Williams, who later returned to coach at UNC. Current Kansas head coach Bill Self served as a graduate assistant under Brown at KU during the 1985–86 season which saw Kansas set a then-record for wins in a single season and the Jayhawks snapped a 12-year final four drought. Longtime NBA coach Alvin Gentry was an assistant for Brown on the 1988 National Championship team that also included future San Antonio Spurs General Manager R. C. Buford as an assistant coach. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich also spent a year as a volunteer to Brown at Kansas. Brown took all three with him to San Antonio when he became the Spurs coach in 1988.

Also, current University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari was an assistant under Brown with Kansas and Philadelphia 76ers. Former Kansas players Mark Turgeon and Tad Boyle, coaches of the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Colorado at Boulder respectively, played for Brown at Kansas.

Danny Manning, who played for Brown at Kansas from 1984 to 1988, served as the Jayhawks' assistant coach under Self from 2007 to 2012 and is now the head coach at Wake Forest University. Kevin Pritchard, the starting point guard on Kansas' 1988 NCAA Division I men's championship team with Manning and Brown, was coach/general manager of the ABA's Kansas City Knights as well as interim coach/general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Current Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson served as an assistant to Brown during Brown's brief time coaching the Detroit Pistons. Woodson left after the 2004 NBA championship to become head coach of the Atlanta Hawks from 2004 to 2010 and New York Knicks from 2012 to 2014.

Head coaching record


Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win-loss %
Post season PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win-loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Carolina* 1972–73 84 57 27 .679 1st in East 12 7 5 .583 Lost in Division Finals
Carolina* 1973–74 84 47 37 .560 3rd in East 4 0 4 .000 Lost in Division Semifinals
Denver* 1974–75 84 65 19 .774 1st in West 13 7 6 .538 Lost in Division Finals
Denver* 1975–76 84 60 24 .714 1st in West 13 6 7 .462 Lost in ABA Finals
Denver 1976–77 82 50 32 .610 1st in Midwest 6 2 4 .333 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Denver 1977–78 82 48 34 .585 1st in Midwest 13 6 7 .462 Lost in Conf. Finals
Denver 1978–79 53 28 25 .528
New Jersey 1981–82 82 44 38 .537 3rd in Atlantic 2 0 2 .000 Lost in First Round
New Jersey 1982–83 76 47 29 .618
San Antonio 1988–89 82 21 61 .256 5th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
San Antonio 1989–90 82 56 26 .683 1st in Midwest 10 6 4 .600 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
San Antonio 1990–91 82 55 27 .671 1st in Midwest 4 1 3 .250 Lost in First Round
San Antonio 1991–92 38 21 17 .553
L.A. Clippers 1991–92 35 23 12 .657 5th in Pacific 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First Round
L.A. Clippers 1992–93 82 41 41 .500 5th in Pacific 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First Round
Indiana 1993–94 82 47 35 .573 4th in Central 16 10 6 .625 Lost in Conf. Finals
Indiana 1994–95 82 52 30 .634 1st in Central 17 10 7 .588 Lost in Conf. Finals
Indiana 1995–96 82 52 30 .634 2nd in Central 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First Round
Indiana 1996–97 82 39 43 .476 6th in Central Missed Playoffs
Philadelphia 1997–98 82 31 51 .378 7th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
Philadelphia 1998–99 50 28 22 .560 3rd in Atlantic 8 3 5 .375 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Philadelphia 1999–00 82 49 33 .598 3rd in Atlantic 10 5 5 .500 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Philadelphia 2000–01 82 56 26 .683 1st in Atlantic 23 12 11 .522 Lost in NBA Finals
Philadelphia 2001–02 82 43 39 .524 4th in Atlantic 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First Round
Philadelphia 2002–03 82 48 34 .585 2nd in Atlantic 12 6 6 .500 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Detroit 2003–04 82 54 28 .659 2nd in Central 23 16 7 .696 Won NBA Championship
Detroit 2004–05 82 54 28 .659 1st in Central 25 15 10 .600 Lost in NBA Finals
New York 2005–06 82 23 59 .280 5th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
Charlotte 2008–09 82 35 47 .427 4th in Southeast Missed Playoffs
Charlotte 2009–10 82 44 38 .537 3rd in Southeast 4 0 4 .000 Lost in First Round
Charlotte 2010–11 28 9 19 .321
NBA Career 2,002 1,098 904 .548 193 100 93 .518
ABA Career 336 229 107 .682 42 20 22 .476
Career Total 2,338 1,327 1,011 .568 235 120 115 .511


Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
UCLA Bruins (Pacific-10 Conference) (1979–1981)
1979–80 UCLA 22–10 (17-9) 12–6 4th NCAA Runner-up (vacated)*
1980–81 UCLA 20–7 13–5 3rd NCAA Second Round
UCLA: 37–16 (.698) 25–11 (.694)
Kansas Jayhawks (Big Eight Conference) (1983–1988)
1983–84 Kansas 22–10 9–5 2nd NCAA Second Round
1984–85 Kansas 26–8 11–3 2nd NCAA Second Round
1985–86 Kansas 35–4 13–1 1st NCAA Final Four
1986–87 Kansas 25–11 9–5 T–2nd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1987–88 Kansas 27–11 9–5 3rd NCAA Champions
Kansas: 135–44 (.754) 51–19 (.729)
SMU Mustangs (Conference USA) (2012–2013)
2012–13 SMU 15–17 5–11 11th
SMU Mustangs (American Athletic Conference) (2013–present)
2013–14 SMU 27–10 12–6 T–3rd NIT Runner-up
2014–15 SMU 27–7 15–3 1st NCAA Round of 64
2015–16 SMU 25–5 13-5 2nd Ineligible [19]
SMU: 94–39 (.707) 45–24 (.652)
Total: 266–99 (.731)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  • 1973: Carolina Cougars: ABA Eastern Division regular season champions
  • 1975: Denver Nuggets: ABA Western Division regular season champions
  • 1976: Denver Nuggets: ABA regular season champions (single-division)
  • 1977: Denver Nuggets: NBA Midwest Division Champions
  • 1978: Denver Nuggets: NBA Midwest Division Champions
  • 1980: UCLA: NCAA Championship Game
  • 1984: Kansas: Big Eight Conference Tournament Champions
  • 1986: Kansas: NCAA Final Four & Big Eight Conference & Tournament Champions
  • 1988: Kansas: NCAA National Champions
  • 1990: San Antonio Spurs: NBA Midwest Division Champions
  • 1991: San Antonio Spurs: NBA Midwest Division Champions
  • 1995: Indiana Pacers: NBA Central Division Champions
  • 2001: Philadelphia 76ers: NBA Eastern Conference Champions
  • 2004: Detroit Pistons: NBA Champions
  • 2005: Detroit Pistons: NBA Eastern Conference Champions
  • 2015: SMU Mustangs: American Athletic Conference Champions
  • College: 1 National Championship, 3 Final Fours in 7 seasons
  • Pro: 1 Championship, 3 Conference Championships, 10 Division Championships, 18 Playoff appearances in 26 seasons, 1,098 career NBA wins


  1. ^ Grasso, John (2015). Historical Dictionary of Basketball. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 67 pp. ISBN 978-1442255333. 
  2. ^ "Lawrence "Larry" Brown". Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  3. ^ Gerstner, Joanne C. (April 14, 2010). "Are Brown's Eyes Wandering Again?". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b Paul Taylor. Jews and the Olympic Games: the ... Retrieved October 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ The Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia. Villard Books. 1994. p. 209. ISBN 0-679-43293-0. 
  6. ^ "Larry Brown Resigns at Davidson". Reading Eagle. July 3, 1969. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "PISTONS: Larry Brown Relieved of His Coaching Duties". July 19, 2005. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Contract had three years, $18 million left – NBA". ESPN. July 19, 2005. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Knicks Name Larry Brown as Head Coach". July 28, 2005. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  11. ^ List of New York Knicks coaches
  12. ^ "Knicks fire Brown, name Thomas new coach". ESPN. June 23, 2006. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Brown returns to Carolina to coach Bobcats". ESPN. April 30, 2008. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  14. ^ a b Bonnell, Rick. Brown fired as Charlotte Bobcats head coach; Silas takes over The Charlotte Observer, 2010-12-23.
  15. ^ "Coach Larry Brown, Bobcats part ways". ESPN. December 22, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  16. ^ Katz, Andy. "Tim Jankovich agrees to be SMU coach-in-waiting". ESPN. Retrieved 28 April 2012. 
  17. ^ "NCAA bans SMU from 2016 postseason". ESPN. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2015. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "NCAA bans SMU from 2016 postseason". ESPN. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2015. 

NCAA (2004). NCAA March Madness: Cinderellas, Superstars, and Champions from the NCAA Men's Final Four. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 1-57243-665-4. 

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Tom Meschery
Carolina Cougars head coach
Succeeded by
Bob MacKinnon