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Sixers coach Larry Brown resigns

  |   May 26, 2003 at 10:37 PM
PHILADELPHIA, May 26 (UPI) -- Saying it was time for a "fresh look," Larry Brown resigned Monday as Coach and Vice President of Basketball Operations of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Brown spent six seasons with the Sixers - his longest tenure with any team in his 31 years of coaching. In Philadelphia, the man nicknamed "Mr. Fix-it," turned a sagging franchise into a perennial contender.

"We had a good run and it's time to let someone else in here and give a fresh look," Brown said. "I said I didn't want to be here and set this franchise back. But I believe I've taken this team as far as I can, and it's time for change."

Brown's future with the team had been up in the air since the Sixers were eliminated by the Detroit Pistons in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

As early as last week, Sixers Chairman Ed Snider told the Philadelphia Daily News that his team needed to "move on" if Brown had lost his enthusiasm for coaching the 76ers.

"He did a terrific job with the team, and helped restore the 76ers as one of the best organizations in basketball, and 76ers fans everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude," said 76ers Board Chairman Ed Snider.

Brown, 62, leaves the Sixers with two years remaining on his contract. Snider said at Monday's press conference that Brown is free to pursue other jobs and would not seek compensation.

He did not hide his feelings when it came to coaching again.

"There's a lot of jobs out there and I just left a great one," Brown said. "I have to sit back with my family and see what's best. I am (still) pumped about coaching. My passion for coaching is still there. I'm not going to be idle. I don't think I could do that."

Enshrined to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, Brown is the only coach in NBA history to lead six different teams to the playoffs and has over 1,000 wins in the ABA, NBA and the college ranks.

His resume also includes stints with the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, New Jersey Nets, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Carolina Cougars of the ABA.

He also spent five seasons at Kansas, winning the NCAA title in 1988, and coached at UCLA for two years.

The crowning achievement for Brown in Philadelphia came in 2001, when he was named NBA Coach of the Year after guiding the Sixers to the NBA Finals for the first time in 18 seasons.

In 1997, Brown took over a floundering franchise in Philadelphia. After going 31-51 in his first season, Brown built the franchise into a contender and amassed a 255-205 record with the Sixers, including five straight playoff appearances.

Brown's success with the Sixers had sometimes been marred by his tumultuous relationship with star player Allen Iverson.

Overall in 20 seasons as an NBA coach, Brown has compiled a 879-685 record. His career record as a coach is an impressive 1,285-853.

Rumors of Brown departing Philadelphia occurred in the past.

In 2000, he nearly left the Sixers to take the job at North Carolina, his alma mater. He has said in the past that former North Carolina Coach Dean Smith offered him that job, but was overruled by school administrators.

After Matt Doherty resigned as coach at North Carolina in April, Brown again was mentioned as a candidate, but Kansas Coach Roy Williams eventually was hired.

Brown already has been mentioned as a candidate to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are expected to select high school phenom LeBron James with the first pick in April's draft. Jeff Van Gundy also is a candidate to coach in Cleveland.

At halftime of TNT's broadcast of the San Antonio-Dallas playoff game Sunday night, James did not hide his admiration for Brown, who has a busy summer ahead.

He will coach Team USA in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico in August. The U.S. is competing to win a spot in the 2004 Olympics.

If Brown does not take another NBA job, his coaching status for coaching Team USA is not expected to be affected.

"I am just happy for Coach," said Philadelphia guard Eric Snow. "He has the chance to do what he wants to do, and do what is best for him and his family. I am definitely going to miss him. I thank him for the opportunity that he gave me. He made me a better person, No. 1, and a better player. I am happy and feel blessed that I had the chance to play for a Hall of Fame coach."

As a player, Brown was a member of the 1964 gold medal U.S. Olympic basketball team.

Snider on Monday also promoted General Manager Billy King to team president. King, 37, came to the Sixers with Brown in 1997 as Vice President of Basketball Administration.

In his new job, King also will continue to serve as the club's GM.

Also, Dave Coskey, currently the team's Executive Vice President, will expand his duties, and has been named President of a new Comcast-Spectacor Marketing Division.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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