I didn't attend Larry Brown's end-of-season news conference Friday, but I'm going to try and read the tea leaves, anyway.
Brown is going home to Philadelphia now to talk with his wife, Shelly, and his two teenagers (ages 13 and 15) about whether he should move back to Philly (presumably to retire or else take a front-office job with the 76ers) or stay in Charlotte to coach the Bobcats for at least another season.
OK, a couple of points:
1) When you were 13 or 15 years old, did you want your Dad around all the time?
2) Why won't Shelly, his wife, move here? This is intriguing, but apparently not an option. The Browns want to keep the kids in schools where they are happy and they have friends. I understand that, and certainly they're all used to the situation, given that when Larry came here the kids were 11 and 13 and only he moved to Charlotte. Shelly gave the go-ahead for that move originally, but it took some doing -- I remember Michael Jordan saying Shelly was a tougher negotiator at the time than Larry was.
3) Here was the most telling thing Brown said about this dilemma Friday:
"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 [on his next birthday]. 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."
So Larry's soul is tortured once again. He's been that way, off and on, for large segments of his life. But he's also a basketball genius, which is why everyone puts up with his "To be or not to be" imitation of Hamlet every couple of years.
My guess? Brown ultimately gets it worked out on the homefront. And he stays in Charlotte. Maybe only for one more year, maybe for two to fulfill the original contract he signed with Jordan.
That's just my gut reaction, after watching Brown interact with Jordan and other Bobcat employees Wednesday at the golf tournament at Quail Hollow. You could see the affection there. Brown loves what he's doing and who he's working for. And Shelly knew what he did when she married him -- how a lot of his life is defined by basketball, and coaching. I think she and Larry will work out a compromise, and he'll stay -- at least for one more year.
But I'm certainly not going to bet the house on that. Let's remember, this is Larry Brown. He's so fascinating in large part because he's so unpredictable. "Where You Gonna Be Next Year, Larry?" was once the title of a Sports Illustrated feature on Brown.
And that was in 1984.
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