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June 14, 2004

Larry Brown


Q. Could you go back a little bit to '97, when the Sixers had a high pick in the Draft, and could you recount what your interest was in Chauncey Billups at that time and why you may not have ended up with him?
COACH LARRY BROWN: That's when we had the second pick. You know, Keith Van Horn's agent, David Falk, said that he wasn't going to play for us in Philly; that we would waste a draft pick if we decided to take him. We really were going to take him anyway, and then there was a lot of discussions about the possibility of moving some contracts to New Jersey.
So, we made a trade, but we were exploring a lot of possibilities, and we wanted to take him. You know, I didn't think he would slip to 7, where we eventually ended up with New Jersey, but once we heard Keith wasn't anxious to come to Philly, we explored some possibilities.
The reason, aside from the fact we thought he could play, we felt he would be a perfect match for Allen, you know, a bigger guard that could maybe defend 2s and put Allen in a position where he could be effective. Didn't work out.
And then I've tried to trade for him numerous times, and never worked out.
Q. When did you first see this cold-blooded element to his game?
COACH LARRY BROWN: You know, he played for one of my basketball managers at Kansas. I have close ties in Denver, all of the high school coaches in Denver were aware of him. And then David Moe, Doug's son was an assistant at CU and talked to me and then I tried to help them go to Kansas because Roy recruited Chauncey.
No, I didn't see that. I just thought he was a terrific player, and David thought the world of him and so did the people in Denver in his high school program.
Q. Last night Rick Fox had his first extended playing time. What does he do for the complexion of the Lakers when he's on the floor?
COACH LARRY BROWN: Rick played great. He had five assists in warm-ups. He's got three championships. He went to a good college. (Laughter).
I think a big factor in their struggle early in the year was when they had some injuries. He was such a key part of their championship teams. He played pretty darn good, I think, you know, when you talk about injuries and that's a key part of their team.
Q. How does he look now as a player as compared to during those championship runs, or even earlier the last post-season before he got hurt?
Q. Is he still the effective player that he once was?
Q. Yes.
COACH LARRY BROWN: I think he's terrific. But, you know, he hadn't been healthy all year, and I think those kind of injuries take time. He's a little older. But I've always felt he's been a terrific team guy, an underrated defender. You don't win championships three straight years unless you're a pretty talented player, and he did a great job for them and will continue to.
Q. What was your perception of Tayshaun before you came here, and obviously he's been taking the hot player on a lot of teams, but did you anticipate he was going to be able to -- he would frustrate Kobe the way he has with so many bad shots?
COACH LARRY BROWN: Well, first of all, I was with Tubby Smith in 1999 in the qualifying team, and then both Tubby and myself and Coach Katy were Rudy's assistant in 2000. Tubby talked to me a lot about Tayshaun. I coached Nazr Mohammed, who thought Tayshaun was a special kid. And then Tubby called me in Philly to see if we could draft him because he felt, you know, he would be a terrific pro. He didn't know when it would happen, but he thought he was intelligent and just a great team player and somebody that if he got physically stronger could really be a star in the league.
I didn't have an experience with him until actually this summer and Joe told me from the start that he wanted Tayshaun to play and that's why he traded Michael Curry. He felt that Tayshaun in his rookie year didn't get to play a lot early, but showed his potential in the playoffs. He played really well against us in certain games.
But I had no preconceived ideas about what kind of player he was until I got with him this summer, and we made him the focal point of our offense. I didn't know if he would be a great defender. I just knew that he had a chance to be a pretty good player.
And the beginning of the year was real difficult for him because all of a sudden, he goes from not playing in half the games to being a starter, and not only that, we lost some key players. So he's playing beside some young people and he's with a coach that's asking him to do different things. So it was a huge adjustment.
I had no idea he would defend like this. Think about it. He had to guard Desmond Mason, who is a very underrated player, and then he had to defend Richard Jefferson, who I think is becoming a star, and then he had to guard Ron Artest, who creates different kinds of problems, who is a star, and now he's probably guarding the best perimeter player in the League.
I don't think you stop Kobe, but, you know, one thing you've got to remember, Kobe's trying to score against a set defense. It's not just Tayshaun. I don't think that's being fair. And a lot of times, because we're halfcourt, we're taking time off the clock. A lot of times, Kobe has to invent a shot, simply because the clock's running down. But Tayshaun has done as good a job as you possibly can against a great, great player.
Q. You've probably been asked this a thousand times so I apologize to make it 1,001, but could you just address what a championship title would mean to you personally, if you could wrap it up in the next three?
COACH LARRY BROWN: You know, I've been taught my whole career, it's really not about me, it's about these players. You know, I got in this profession because I've had a great background. I've really been fortunate and always wanted to do the best job I can as a coach. I never really thought about all this stuff. Then when you're in it this long and you're constantly reminded that you've never been part of it, you know, obviously people that care about you mention it more than I do. But the biggest thing for me is all of the people that have done things for me, my coaches, the people that have coached me, coached with me, and my players, that would be the greatest part of this.
And then the last thing, I think most significant thing is, I mentioned this about Philly, wherever I went, people used to tell me how hard our team played and how much they respected their effort in trying to do it the right way. I sense this team and what they bring would be a testimony of how special our league is, because I think this team tries to play the right way and respects the game and respect one another, so that would be the most significant thing, the reward and the way it would show how when you do things the right way, these are the things you can accomplish.
Q. Even though you'll be the same guy and the same coach whether you win a championship or not --
COACH LARRY BROWN: Might not be the same coach. I might be doing something else. (Laughter) I'm sorry.
Q. My question is, does it on any level make you chuckle that people will think you're a better coach if you win a championship, even though you're the same guy, same coach?
COACH LARRY BROWN: I think, one, you've got to understand, all of a sudden, I'm in this business with Phil Jackson, who has won nine championships. We can look all through the league, there's a lot of guys that are like me. I don't think I'm unique. I look at Jerry Sloan, I don't think people look at him as any less of a coach or Rick Adelman. There's a lot of pretty special coaches in this league. We just happen to have been in the same era of a guy that's been phenomenal and has unbelievable success.
I think most people that understand the game know whether you are doing a good job or not, whether you're getting the most out of your players or not. And when I'm finished, I'm sure that's going to be the most significant thing when they decide whether I've done my job or not.
No matter how you look at it, one team is standing at the end. And being here now, I'm amazed at what Phil's accomplished. It's just so hard to get here. But I probably would be smarter if it happened.

End of FastScripts...

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