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Larry Brown talks difference between being NBA and college coach

Jul 10, 2013, 11:04 AM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Charlotte Bobcats Getty Images

Brad Stevens is the latest. Before him is a long line of college coaches who tried their hands at the NBA game — and the picture isn’t pretty. Far more failure than success.

Larry Brown is an exception. He is the lone coach to win an NBA championship (2004 Pistons) and an NCAA tournament title (1988 Kansas). He knows his stuff.

And he is in Stevens’ corner — he thinks the Celtics young coach can be one of the exceptions. Bill Reiter at Fox Sports got Brown to talk about the differences is coaching at the two levels.

“The games are completely different,” he said. “When you’re at a college game, in the second half you probably have to make two or three decisions late. In a pro game you probably make 30. And you times that by 100, and then times that by 30, and there’s a huge, huge difference. And it’s a marathon, not a sprint. College has much fewer games. In the NBA, a lot of these great college coaches — I coached young guys who lost more games in a two-week period than they did their whole college careers. So that’s no fun. That’s a huge adjustment for coaches, too. That’s not easy.”

How hard is it?

“Jerry Tarkanian took over for me in San Antonio and didn’t last 30 games,” Brown said.

Stevens has a six-year deal and in theory time to both find his way in the NBA and time for the Celtics to put the right players around him to win. But they are not going to win a whole lot next season (even if they keep Rajon Rondo to build around) and both Boston fans and ownership need to be prepared for that. Talent wins and Boston is rebuilding — they don’t have much.

Brown also said that Boston getting the right assistant coaches is key.

“Now here’s the challenge for Boston,” Brown said. “It’s really vital they put people around Brad who are there to help him grow, who don’t feel they should be the head coach. I always get confused when they hire these head coaches or ex-players players and say, ‘We have to get an older guy next to them to help them. I always thought that was ass backwards. Brad’s done practice plans. He’s broken down films. He’s started from the very bottom. He knows how to coach. So now the challenge for [Celtics GM] Danny [Ainge] is to surround Brad with guys who only care about making sure Brad Stevens is the greatest coach he can be.”

Stevens is going to get his chance. We’re going to see if he can coach, but a lot of his success will depend on who Danny Ainge gives him to work with.

  1. dialogtees - Jul 10, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    I say good luck. You’ve got to start somewhere. Youngblood is good. This game is forever young. He’ll be able to connect with these young fellas.

  2. pmx8411 - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    I’am pretty sure Stevens and Rondo will clash that will lead to a trade

    • 1historian - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      I disagree. I think Stevens will be fine with Rondo. I think Ainge thinks the same thing because there is no way he would have hired Stevens without giving that some consideration.

    • money2long - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      let’s be fair. every coach and player throughout the course of a season may have clashes. even tim duncan and pop. what matters is how you move forward. do you hold grudges or do you see the bigger picture. it’s up to both sides of a dispute to figure out what matters more.

  3. miamatt - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    The one thing that rarely gets mentioned in the “college coaches usually fail in the pros” discussion is that most NBA coaches fail, period.

    • ryanrockzzz - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      haha so true.

  4. kacapaco - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    it sucks to lose lots of games for couple of seasons. but guess what? we are going to stick with our Celtics. All Danny has to do is, hold on to RR & give him a chance to be corner stone and build around him. We don’t want to be Boston Bobcats & lose ~20 games in a raw. We want to have hope of winning few games. Go Green.

  5. 1historian - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    The Celts have 2 #1 picks in next year’s draft, one of which (theirs) will undoubtedly be a lottery pick. Next year’s draft is supposed to be one of the best in a long time. If they want to move up higher in the draft they might swap their #1 and Jersey’s #1 to do so.

    They are clearing cap space to go after some of the FAs next year.

    After that – They have 2 #1 picks in 2015, 2 in 2016, 1 in 2017 and 2 in 2018.

    Last year at this time they were one of the oldest teams in the league, now they are among the youngest. Boston fans will put up with a few bad years because they know that Ainge knows what he is doing.

    • ryanrockzzz - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:23 PM

      The only potential flaw with this is that the Celtics are not the only other team that has this strategy.

      Lakers- They will have a ton of cap space to work with after this season to lure a premier free agent. They also have clout as a franchise (more then Boston IMO)
      Jazz- They are in tank mode, just acquired expiring contracts also.
      Sixers- Like the Celtics they will almost certainly have a lottery pick, and have the Pelicans pick which will probably end up in the mid-1st round.
      Bobcats- They are so inept, you know they’ll be in the lottery.

      Point being..if the Celtics want to turn it all around in one year, that’s probably wishful thinking. With 5-7 teams bidding on the top free agents, and only 3-4 immediate impact players coming through the draft, it will be hard for a one year turnaround. More like a two to three year plan for them, and all of the teams in the “tank for Wiggins” derby.

  6. dezglobal - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Larry Brown is an epic coach

  7. whitdog23 - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    so they’re clearing cap space for FA and will add in 8 draft picks. you do realize only 5 guys play at a time…right?

  8. determineflksmakeit - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    ” I always get confused when they hire these head coaches or ex-players players and say, ‘We have to get an older guy next to them to help them. I always thought that was ass backwards.”

    So we are just going to ignore the fact that he took a shot at the New Jersey Nets? And possibly Jason Kidd?

    …That’s the Larry Brown I know…

    • determineflksmakeit - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      And by New Jersey…I’m mean Brooklyn/Jay-Z/Etc. Etc. Nets.

    • louhudson23 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:11 AM

      There was no shot at the NETS,as he was not speaking of the head coaches(like J.Kidd) but the former Head Coaches and ex players who are hired as so called Assistants, whose real aspiration and priority is to be the Head Coach themselves. He advocates young guys who are willing to make “assisting” the Head Coach their first priority….

  9. azarkhan - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    One of the main differences is that in the NBA, a star player can fire the coach.

  10. uscoach - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    As a college coach you can kick half of the team to the curb instead of coaching them up and waiting a year or two to get your guys in.

  11. selowitch - Jul 10, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    A rebuilding team can be fun to watch, even if they lose a whole lot of games. I certainly hope that is the case with the Celtics.

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